Krishna Baidya’s Random Musings

Nokia_N8_01Nokia has announced the launch of its latest flagship smartphone, the N8 (pictured), which will be the first ever device based on the new Symbian version 3 (S^3) platform. Nokia – the world’s largest handset vendor – announced today that the new device will be available in selected markets in the third quarter of the year, slightly later than planned according to earlier reports. It is priced at EUR370 before applicable taxes or subsidies. Among the highlight features on the N8 is a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash and a large sensor that claims to rival those found in compact digital cameras. It also offers the ability to make and edit HD-quality videos and is compatible with home theatre systems. Web TV services and social networking features are also prominent, including the ability to have live feeds from Facebook and Twitter in a single app directly on the home screen. Nokia’s free turn-by-turn navigation service – Ovi Maps – is also included. Given Nokia’s recent troubles with its smartphone portfolio, the N8 will be carefully watched.

In a separate statement, Symbian described the launch as marking its first major platform release following its transition to a fully open source model in February this year. “S^3 enables an unparalleled set of options for device creators and app developers to extend the usefulness of Symbian products and services,” said Lee Williams, executive director at Symbian. The N8 is Nokia’s first device to be integrated with Qt, a software development environment that aims to make it possible to build applications once and deploy across Symbian and other software platforms. The vendor has made a beta version of the Qt SDK available for developers.
Source: GSMA Daily

NexusOne1Google has performed a u-turn on its strategy to sell its own-brand Android smartphone, the Nexus One. In a statement yesterday, the company announced that Vodafone will from this Friday start selling the device in the UK via its stores, online and over the phone. “Soon after,” Google said, it will be available via SFR in France, as well as via Vodafone’s other subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. More operator launches look to be on the horizon, as Google noted that Vodafone is the “first European partner to distribute the Nexus One.” The move is a direct contrast to Google’s original retail model for the device; when it launched the high-profile phone in January Google surprised many industry watchers with plans to only sell the product via its own online store. Such a move broke heavily with traditional mobile industry business practices, bypassing the mobile operator retail stores that serve as a key distribution channel for mobile phones. Meanwhile, US operator Verizon Wireless has been dropped as a partner for the device; despite being touted as an initial partner at launch, Google is now advising customers to instead “pre-order the Droid Incredible by HTC, a powerful new Android phone and a cousin of the Nexus One that is similarly feature-packed” and available in stores on 29 April. The Nexus One remains available to T-Mobile USA customers.

Reports have been quick to cite analysts as stating that the actions represent a setback for Google’s plans to carve a role for itself in the mobile business and to redefine industry practices in the process. The move is also likely to fuel speculation that Google has been forced to change its strategy due to less-than-stellar demand for the Nexus One; analysts believe Google sold about 150,000 Nexus One devices in the first quarter. By contrast, Apple sold 1 million iPhones in the first 74 days after releasing the gadget in 2007. However, earlier this month Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette said Nexus One is “a profitable business for us”, whilst Jeff Huber, SVP for enginnering, added that the company is “very happy with the device uptake and the kind of impact that’s had across the industry in terms of raising the bar for what devices can do.” Huber added that Google’s Android system is powering 34 devices and that more than 60,000 Android devices are sold and activated each day. Android also had 38,000 apps in the previous quarter, up 78 percent from the last quarter.

Source: GSMA Daily

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Results of poll by China Internet Network Information Center released this week.

Most young Chinese use mobile phones to access the Internet as these are cheaper and easier to obtain than desktop computers, according to a survey by a government-linked body.

About three-quarters of China’s 195 million web users under the age of 25–roughly half of its world-leading online population–surfed the Internet using a mobile in 2009, up from 50% from a year ago, the poll revealed.

The finding marked the first time that mobile phones emerged as the top platform for Web use among China’s youth, according to the poll by the China Internet Network Information Center, which was released Monday.

The poll offers further proof of the importance of the burgeoning mobile Internet market in China, which has the world’s largest number of mobile phone subscribers at more than 765 million, according to government data.

Nearly 70% of young Internet users still use desktops–implying that many Web-savvy youth are using both methods to get online.

The center said more young people in the countryside had opted for mobile Internet than their urban counterparts, as the handheld device “provided youths in areas where computers are hard to get with an alternative.”

Young Chinese primarily use the Internet to listen to music, play games and watch video clips, the center said.

Source: Total Tele

Japan provides some fascinating pointers as to how tech-savvy mobile operators are trying to contend with the growing strategic importance of handset operating systems that lie beyond their control.  In Japan, this shift in the balance of power is an entirely new phenomena – Japan’s mobile operators have traditionally controlled handset development, setting out detailed specifications for both software and hardware.

Detailed story is at the below link:

Japans Operators Sharpen their Smartphone Strategies.

I personally like DoComo’s approach of creating a “global” platform that would make “write once, use everywhere” (symbian, linux, android etc.) a reality for developers.

Gartner predicts that worldwide sales of smartphones will grow by 29 percent year-on-year to reach 180 million units in 2009, overtaking notebooks in total unit terms. The research firm adds that it expects smartphone sales revenue to reach US$191 million by 2012, higher than end user spending on mobile PCs, which is forecast to reach US$152 million by the same point. Currently smartphones account for 14 percent of overall mobile device sales, but Gartner expects by 2012 they will make up around 37 percent of global handset sales. However, it adds that the PC vendors’ cumulative share (Apple excluded) of the smartphone market has remained static at around 1 percent and is unlikely to rise above 2 percent during the next three years, highlighting the challenges faced by PC vendors looking to tap into smartphones.

“PC vendors will find it difficult to simply use existing supply chains and channels to expand their presence in the smartphone market,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. “The smartphone and notebook markets are governed by different rules when it comes to successfully marketing and selling products.” Gartner notes that PC vendors have traditionally introduced smartphones based on the Windows Mobile platform, which have mainly attracted business users. But it adds that PC vendors will face extreme challenges in having to adapt and base their smartphone offerings on a consumer-focused value proposition based on short life cycles, fashion design, hardware and software platform diversity.

T-Mobile USA has launched a new unlimited mobile plan available to customers outside of a contract in a bid to compete with prepaid rivals such as Leap Wireless and MetroPCS.  The new plan will offer unlimited talk, text and Web surfing for US$79.99 a month to customers who do not want to sign up for a long-term contract, which typically lasts 2 years. Earlier this year (March) it started offering ” Unlimited Loyalty Plan”, unlimited minutes on an individual line for $49.99/ month and unlimited minutes on a two-line Family plan for $89.99/ month, to its customer who have been with the carrier for at least 22 months with a reliable payment history. Now, the company is believed to extend the $50/ month unlimited service for non-contract customers. The new deal represents a 20 percent discount on T-Mobile’s standard unlimited monthly fee for contract customers, though subscribers to the new deals will be required to pay a higher fee for a handset.

The introduction of unlimited monthly prepaid plans in the US was pioneered by Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile, which launched a US$50 monthly plan in January. The plan has since been replicated by a number of its prepaid rivals and has led to a fierce price war in the prepaid low-end segment.

This is quite a bid to attract customer to its network and will not be surprising the beginning of a price war. As a end user, I am not complaining. Other broader implication is more subtle (but non-avoidable in my opinion) where mobile carrier too is following suit of ISPs in becoming nothing but a dumb pipe. It will be interesting to see how long more other operators across the world can wait before forced to accept this very fact.

Google is planning to launch a branded smartphone that will bypass mobile operators and compete with handset vendors running its own Android platform, reported TheStreet yesterday citing an analyst source. Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar, who claims to have talked to Google’s design partners about the plan, says the device will be sold via retailers rather than operators. By bypassing the operators, Google is aiming to offer a device that lets users determine the functions. The rumoured “unlocked, low-cost, Web-friendly touchscreen device” is also likely to undercut the Android phones being developed by the likes of Motorola, the report says. “It’s a bit of a departure from Google’s strategy, but I think the speculation is valid,” says Michael Cote of the Cote Collaborative.

Kumar predicts that the device could be launched by year-end, though others think this timeframe is optimistic. He adds that the device is likely to be based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform but it is unclear who will actually build the device. The report noted that Google already has plans with computer-maker Quanta to build its own netbooks that will run on a Linux-based Google Chrome operating system (OS) and be available next summer. But TheStreet says that Taiwan’s HTC is the most likely vendor to build Google its own Android phone. HTC was an early supporter of the Android platform and already has four Android phones available in the marketplace. Neither Google, HTC nor Quanta were available to comment. A report this week by AdMob claims that Android has secured a 7 percent share of the smartphone OS market since launching a year ago.

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