This week in mobile – March 20, 2011

It’s been another busy week for the mobile industry. Let’s get to it…

Carriers
If you’re a Sprint push to talk fan, be warned that Sprint intends to shut down its current IDEN based system in 2013 and replace with Sprint Direct Connect, a CDMA based PTT system.

AT&T is cracking down on illegal smartphone tethering. Thought you’d get something for nothing by jailbreaking your device and tethering it? Not so fast. AT&T is sending letters to offenders. AT&T is warning that unless the practice is stopped the offender’s data plan will be upgraded to the more costly DataPro tethering plan. This doesn’t just apply to iPhone users, but anyone tethering illegally.

AT&T has slashed the price of iPad 3G by $200 in an effort to get rid of existing inventory. The iPad 2 is cool, but a 16GB iPad 3G is a great deal at $429.

The first Verizon LTE phone has shipped. The HTC Thunderbolt shipped on March 17. The Thunderbolt is available immediately for $249 with a 2 year commitment (Amazon is selling it for $175). Surprisingly, Verizon is offering a $30 unlimited data plan. This won’t last forever (or for long likely) but Verizon is clearly looking for a way to entice people over to try out their superfast LTE network. The handset is essentially an updated Evo but uses LTE instead of WiMax.

RIM
RIM needs some good press, but this isn’t it. A vulnerability in the browser in OS6 has RIM advising users to disable Javascript. No date for a patch has been given. The vulnerablity would let a hacker get access to data stored on the device.

My Take: This seems like a big problem. Shutting off Javascript makes the browser pretty much useless with most of the web. RIM needs to patch this quickly.

In some good news, RIM is opening up APIs to its popular BBM messaging system allowing third party developers to take advantage of the network.

My Take: BBM is one of the reasons people stick with BlackBerry, so making the platform more valuable with third party apps seems like a wise move.

Apple
Here’s a headline I never thought I’d see! Why I switched back to an AT&T iPhone.  The author, who is based in the NY metro area, claims that his Verizon iPhone performs no better than the AT&T one in terms of dropping calls and connectivity. If thats the case, he might as well stick with AT&T and enjoy the faster connectivity (when he can connect that is).

My Take: This is a bit surprising as I’ve heard that Verizon iPhones do much better than AT&T in terms of dropped calls and connectivity.

Not everyone feels the same as an advertising analytic company states that Verizon picked up 12.4% oft the iPhone market and 4.5% of all iPhone traffic. Not bad for one month of sales.

Is iPhone web browsing 52% slower than Android? It depends, is the answer. There was a lot of buzz about a report that showed the Android browser (on a Nexus S) is 52% faster than iPhone 4’s browser. There were following stories that said launching web sites from the home screen instead of in Safari will also be slower. Some said it was a bug, and some said it was deliberate of Apple to encourage App development instead of web development. The truth of it is that Mobile Safari and embedded web views in third party apps do not behave the same way. Safari is a trusted application and is allowed to do things that other apps cannot in the name of security. So, third party apps with web views (which was used in the testing in the report that started all of this) do run slower. Web sites launched from the home screen only run slower if the sites are “full screen” because in that case the do not run in Safari but in another app. A good explanation can be found here.

My Take: A lot of worry for little. Don’t worry about using web links from your iPhone’s home screen. Hopefully the enhancements in Safari can come to the other ways of viewing web pages in future releases of iOS.

Apple is going to make a fortune on iPad 2, but they are also making a fortune on just the cover!

At SWSX, it looks like Apple products are the choice of tweeters.

SimplyMeasured has analyzed the #SXSW tweet streams and come up with some preliminary results to the booze-fueled undertaking. According to SimplyMeasured’s data, GroupMe dominated people’s #SXSW Twitter streams in the group messaging class with 65% of the mentions, iOS devices won the platform battles with 74% of the tweets (split into 60% for the iPhone and 14% for the iPad respectively)

More iPhone 5 rumors. Is NFC going to be in iPhone 5? No? Yes? We won’t know until June. Also, a new rumor is going around that iPhone 5 won’t look that different than iPhone 4. It will have a larger screen and a metal back (similar to iPhone 1) though.

My Take: I’m getting tired of the rumors. We’ll just have to wait until June (unless another Apple employee gets drunk and leaves a prototype in a bar before then).

Android
Amazon’s AppStore looks like it will launch soon with an exclusive version of the popular Angry Birds game. This version will be branded for animated movie Rio. This sounds like a nice way to drive people to the new app store and get money for publicizing a new movie.

My Take: An Amazon app store isn’t that interesting unless it means that Amazon is coming out with its own Android tablet. That would be interesting as Amazon is in a good position to compete with Apple.

Commerce

Google is testing an NFC mobile payment system in New Yord and soon in and San Francisco. I’d be surprised if they weren’t building such a system. That is it is in external testing is means they’re making some progress.

Foursquare and Amex arranged a deal to provide discounts on Amex purchases after checking in at participating retailers. This works well for the consumer and retailer as no additional work is necessary on either side. The customer just sees a credit on their Amex statement and the retailer doesn’t need to train their staff on how to redeem coupons.

RIM and the carriers are arguing over control of mobile payments. As you could imagine, both parties want control (and therefore the revenue). I’m not sure why this is only RIM’s fight, as I would imagine that all phone makes want control.

And that’s the news…

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About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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