Radio Liberty

In a MainStreet article, Seth Fiegerman suggests that Livio’s “Car Internet Radio” iPhone app is a giant-killer, primed to topple Satellite Radio. Hmmmm. Satellite Radio can be seen as valuable in two ways. For many, the programming on the “radio” is the key. The content is the lure, with premium syndication from Howard Stern, ESPN, NFL, etc that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. For these people, there really is no Satellite “killer app”. Given that a lot of this material is unavailable elsewhere, AM/FM, Internet Radio, or any other form of vanilla programming has no appeal.

The other viewpoint puts the emphasis on the “Satellite” instead – a non-location-specific transmission medium that can allow consistent access from anywhere while mobile. With this viewpoint, a cellular “Internet radio” – which uses the Internet as the distribution medium to access radio stations in the conventional sense – could indeed be a worthy competitor to Sirius/XM (provided that there was adequate data coverage in all visited areas). These “radio” stations may be streaming versions of a bonafide over-the-air (OTA) station, or an Internet agglomeration of custom programming available only as online content. (continue reading…)


The Evolution Of Smartphones, By The Numbers [And Why Apple May Dominate The Next Round]

In 2007, Apple energized the smartphone industry with the introduction of the first-gen iPhone. Within a year, they had gone from a non-player in the cellular phone market to an innovative industry leader. Indeed, Apple’s tremendous success in the marketplace is exemplified by their capture of 48% of the Q1 2010 mobile phone revenues, despite being limited to GSM carriers and garnering only an estimated 3% of the total handset market.

If rumors of a CDMA phone in 2011 are correct, Apple is poised to once again make an historic leap, this time not for its innovative technological advances, but in terms of a significant – possibly even dominant – market share increase. In order to explain why this might be, we need to understand how smartphone adoption has evolved (very rapidly) over the past 3 years.

(continue reading…)

The Geosocial Universe

An interesting infographic on the penetration of social media in the mobile world.

Check out what we are calling "The Geosocial Universe&qu... on Twitpic

I might quibble over the representation of Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo! Mail as individual closed systems though. Size matters relative to their marketing capabilities – think eyeballs and click-throughs – but in the social media universe I would think they are all part of a generic “email” aggregate that dwarfs all others.

Mobile Optimization Gone Wrong

Are you reading this blog on a PC/Mac? If so, the following 3-page article will not seem out of the ordinary:

But if you are reading this on an iPhone, something is decidedly lacking in the InfoWorld piece. On a positive note, most of the ads & banners are gone, but that’s not what I am referring to…

(continue reading…)

“Real World” iPhone4 Antenna Experience

An interesting post about the hysteria over the iPhone4 antenna flaw. The author’s real world experiences are actually of better call performance, *despite* the “death grip” problem that has exposed flaws both in Apple’s design and their customer service savvy.

Now that I have upgraded my iPhone, I must concur. East San Diego County residents may be well aware of the dead zone on Highway 52, going over the Mission Trails Summit between Miramar and Santee. It’s not a tall ‘mountain’ (sic) by any stretch of the imagination (only 821 ft), but obviously the carrier antennas are on the downhill sides rather than at the peak, because it has been a long-standing problem area not just for AT&T but for Sprint/Verizon as well.

Going eastbound, you can predict the drops on an iPhone3 with an incredible degree of accuracy – there is a specific spot near the Adopt-A-Highway sign that is as consistent as Old Faithful. Going westbound, calls actually survive over the peak, but usually drop during tower hand-off as you head toward the Santo Rd off-ramp.

It is rare, but the only time that trans-summit calls seem to survive is when there is a thick blanket of fog/clouds. One would assume that the signals are bouncing just perfectly off the atmosphere…

With an iPhone4, no problems whatsoever – even on cloudless days. I can hold eastbound calls all the way into the valley and clear to the El Cajon foothills. Westbound, the transfer to Miramar cell towers has been totally seamless. I can now make a 40min commute from El Cajon to University City with an intact call. The Avocado/Horizon Hills dead zone between El Cajon and Rancho San Diego is also no longer a drop factor (though a bit clippy).

So even with the antenna issue, the performance of the phone still seems superior to previous models. In the “AntennaGate” press conference, Steve Jobs said that there is actually a less than 1 per 100 call drop increase compared to the older models, but I just haven’t seen it. Yes, the seam between antennas can be bridged and cause attenuation for some. But most people I know use protection anyway, and there are plenty of options even for the biggest tightwad (from Apple, StealthArmor, Antenn-aid). Techies swayed by on-paper arguments can forego the iPhone4, but real-world experience seems to say that most people will be happy and the design flaw is nearly a non-issue.

Consumer response does seem to bear that out, as Jobs also said that only 0.55% of the customer complaints were about reception, with the return rate 70% less than the 3GS (so far). Is this a ‘crisis’ only for the media? I’m just not grokking how Consumer Reports can take such a stand against a phone that they readily acknowledged was far superior and seems to have better real-world performance than previous recommendations (despite the flaw). At this point, AntennaGate is less about the technical design and more about marketing. Apple must realize that media opinions like these can sway a public that may not be taking that leap of faith. I heard a sports-radio host say “thank God I didn’t get an iPhone4″ without any clear understanding of what bullet he dodged. And now that opinion was broadcast to his listeners, spreading the (arguably) false perspective.  Apple needs to tone down the hubris and crank up the marketing engine by at least pretending to care rather than blowing off the issue. The free bumpers may not be enough.

All in all, I’d just like the Antennagate problem to fade away. I’m guessing so would Apple.

PS: I actually have bigger concerns elsewhere… Namely, I wonder what future implications this new design holds? As of yet, there has been no link between cellphone use and brain cancers.  But is the iPhone4 radio more ‘powerful’ than others? Is the new antenna alignment more radiative than the conventional cell designs? 10 years from now, are iPhone4 models going to be the first to have a proven link to an increase in brain cancers? I’m not about to give up my iPhone based on paranoid concerns. But that thought did cross my mind. Right before it was zapped by the RF!

Counting Down To The Top 3

Ouch. First Microsoft unceremoniously kills the Kin device, and now the press buries the first Windows Phone 7. If sales will tank as predicted, is MS long for the mobile market?

Lackluster Windows Phone adoption will ultimately reduce the smartphone competition to Apple iOS, Google Android, and the forthcoming BlackBerry 6.0. As for WebOS? HP does not plan to focus on smartphones and will instead push for it as the embedded OS on all their future appliance platforms (particularly tablets).

Soon there will be three. (And quite frankly, I am seeing RIM wilt quickly under the weight of the  iPhone/Droid onslaught. If Corporate America ever concedes their love affair with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server as a means of Draconian IT control, BB is toast.)

Smartphone Tethering

Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, computers went on-net – whether “on net” was “the Internet”, CompuServe, or (for the old-timers) something like FIDOnet – with a device called a “modem”. (Modems got their name because they MOdulated and DEModulated analog telephone signals to transmit binary data.)

In  these days of digital high-speed broadband and FIOS, a genuine “mo-dem” is somewhat of an ancient relic in the vernacular. However, if you have a smartphone, it can act as an analog (no pun intended) of an old-school telephony modem for getting your laptop onto the Internet when there is no other access available.

(continue reading…)

Apple Now, Google Later?

In a survey of 2700+ mobile computing developers from an admittedly non-Apple centric developer base, the Appcelerator results shows that while iOS is king of the “now”, Android is perceived as more open and potentially with greater features in the future.

(continue reading…)

Now Playing – Limited Engagement (Hopefully)

Let’s hope Skype is hurriedly developing support for the iPhone 4G. The much lauded video-conferencing capabilities of the iPhone 4G are only going to be possible using the Apple FaceTime app while strictly on WiFi. Apple is making FaceTime licensing available to other manufacturers, but they may be unwise in trying to corner the video market without interoperability. At the moment, they aren’t even functioning with their own Mac iChat app product! There are a lot of H.323 standards-based tools that will not allow this to go unaddressed. Resistance is futile!

Tethered Tablet

RIM is rumored to be working on a tablet device to compete with the Apple iPad. But the interesting, or should I say, puzzling decision is to make it a tethered device that still requires a BlackBerry for communications.

I think Apple addressed my “do I really want to pay data fees for yet another device?” concerns by providing an OnDemand no-contract activation. So is the fact that a BB tablet must be tethered to a BB phone a clever solution, or a major inconvenience? I favor compact & self-contained, so I tend toward the latter…

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