Friday, September 4, 2009

Sprint Becomes Second U.S. Carrier To Launch Android Phone

Sprint (NYSE: S) announced today that it will begin selling its first Android handset on Oct. 11, making it the second U.S. carrier to roll out a phone based on Google’s platform. Release.

Up until now, T-Mobile USA had been the only carrier in the U.S. to sell an Android phone. Many theorize that the Android platform won’t start see a dramatic uptake in usage without multiple handsets and carriers using the platform. A wave of announcements are nearing, especially with Motorola (NYSE: MOT) set to unveil its Android strategy next week in San Francisco.

Sprint will be selling the HTC Hero, which has been
available in Europe since early this summer.
It will cost Sprint subscribers $180 after $150
in rebates and will require a two-year contract.
They will also need an unlimited
data plan, which costs $100 a month for unlimited
minutes or $70 a month for 450 minutes. Sprint’s
Hero is the first in the U.S. to feature HTC’s user
interface overlay, called “HTC Sense.” Users will
be able to switch between “Scenes” to reflect
different roles in their lives, such as work, social,
travel and play. For example, the companies said
a work Scene can be set up to include stock
updates, work email and calendar, whereas a
play Scene could have music, weather and a Twitter.
In a release, Andy Rubin, Google’s VP of mobile
platforms, said: “Sprint and HTC are helping to
drive openness and innovation in the mobile
industry with the introduction of the Android-powered
HTC Hero.”

Some of the features and specs:

—Camera: 5 megapixel camera and camcorder.
—Email: POP, IMAP, and Exchange Active Sync
—HTC Footprints: An app users use to chronicle
their moments by capturing a digital postcard
on their phone, and taking notes and an audio
clip of that favorite restaurant or special place
while identifying its specific location.
—HTC Hero is a full-featured smartphone with
Wi-Fi capability, a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen
with pinch-to-zoom capability and a fingerprint
resistant coating, integrated GPS navigation,
and trackball navigation.
—Stereo Bluetooth 2.0 Wireless technology
—accelerometer, light sensor and home screen
widgets for improved usability
—multimedia capable with microSD slot
(32GB capable, 2GB included)
—Sprint TV with live and on-demand programming
—NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup
—easy access to social networking sites,
including Facebook®, Flickr® and Twitter
—visual voice mail for quick and easy access to
specific voice mail messages

Source :

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Acer to launch four smartphones in 2H09, say sources

Acer plans to launch four smartphones, the A1, C1/E1, F1 and L1, at the end of September and in the fourth quarter of this year, outsourcing the production to Taiwan-based Compal Communications and Inventec Appliances, according to sources at Taiwan handset component suppliers.

The A1 is an Android-powered model, while the other three are based on Windows Mobile platform, the sources noted.

Compal will manufacture the L1 on an ODM basis, while rolling out the F1 and A1 on an OEM basis, said the sources, who also indicated that Inventec will turn out the C1/E1 smartphone on an ODM basis.

Another OEM/ODM handset maker Arima Communications may join Compal and Inventec to compete for Acer's smartphone orders in 2010 as the company has also stepped into the development of smartphones based on Android and Qualcomm platforms, the sources revealed.

Acer: Revenues, 1Q08 - 1Q09 (NT$m)





































Source :

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Apple’s iPhone apps: 62,965 and counting (or is it?)

Apple grabbed headlines on June 8 at its Worldwide Developers Conference when it announced on June 8 that it had more than 50,000 apps on the iPhone.

That number became fixated in everyone’s heads. But now it’s time to move on. Less than a month later, there are now 62,965 apps on the iPhone, according to Mobclix. The number of games is now 13,030. Back on June 24, we noted that there 59,073 apps, including 12,403 games.

That means there are 299 apps — including 48 games — coming out every day. The acceleration is due in part to the release of iPhone 3.0 software, which as of June 16 allowed a lot of developers to release enhanced apps.

In some ways, that shows how healthy the ecosystem is. More than a billion apps have been downloaded. (That number is obsolete, as Apple crossed it on April 23). But observers are asking questions. How many of those apps are free? (There are 14,242 free apps, including 3,561 free games). How many of the billion-plus downloads are free? How much revenue are they generating? What are the profits? Who is building a sustainable business on the iPhone? Some apps makers such as Mark Pincus of Zynga have said that profits have been elusive so far on the iPhone platform.

[Update: Busted Loop says its count is much different. The company says that Mobclix is double-counting apps between categories. The real numbers should be 55,977, with 10,175 games. Go figure.]

What do the numbers mean? Apple has created a relentlessly Darwinian marketplace. New developers are piling in. Companies are developing their own tricks on how to get noticed. Production values have to be higher if the apps are to stand out. Marketing and advertising may very well become a necessity, even for apps that are viral hits. Publishers may have to get used to the idea that their apps may sell for a couple of weeks and then fall off a cliff. The numbers are stunning in a lot of ways, but I don’t think anyone fully appreciates what they mean yet.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nokia and Symbian: Forget about Android, it’s all about Cutey (Qt)

Nokia, the world’s largest phone handset maker, is denying reports stemming from “industry insiders” that it is developing a smartphone that runs on Google’s Android software. Nokia said, “everyone knows that Symbian is our preferred platform for advanced mobile devices.”

However, the truth may be more complicated. Nokia is instead embracing something called Qt, a software toolbox for developers, which lets those developers port their applications to any of the major operating systems. At the moment, Nokia has released Qt so developers can use it while working on Linux, Max OS X, Windows, Windows CE, Embedded Linux and S60.

And Nokia should make Qt compatible with Android in the near future, we’re told.

So while it may be true that Nokia is not moving to build a device directly on Android, the end effect is that Nokia is going make it much easier for developers to build on the Android platform. That’s because Qt allows developers to work in any direction: They will be able to build on top of Qt, and then port to the Symbian platform, to the Android platform, or even the iPhone, for example.

This is part of a Nokia’s aggressive “cross-platform” developer strategy.

Nokia bought Trolltech, the company that makes Qt in January of last year for $153 million. Popular apps built with Qt include Skype, Google Earth and the player. In January, Nokia moved to make it open source, as the company released Qt on a Lesser General Public License 2.1, essentially enabling developers to use it for free. There are still Qt licenses that aren’t open source.

(To confuse you even more, there’s also something called a Hybrid Qt, which is where a developer can build an application with both browser and native application functionality. It lets developers access a common services API and a QTCore library optimized for use with the popular browser base, Webkit. However, we’re hearing there is little activity here so far that has included Android, but that significant effort has gone into supporting Symbian, and others including Maemo, Series 40, and Desktop OSs).

The hoopla is significant because questions continue about whether Nokia may be considering ditching its existing operating system, Symbian. But the rumors, reported by the Guardian, that Nokia is unveiling a new touchscreen device at Nokia world conference in September on an Android operating system are unfounded, Nokia said.

It’s true that Nokia is under severe pressure to do something. It makes roughly 40 percent of all phones sold but has been losing its share in the market for smartphones — or those devices that can do things like surf the web and do other sophisticated computing tasks, such as email, and open and edit applications. The iPhone has been selling like hot cakes, but is proprietary. Google’s Android is also doing well, with multiple new handsets hitting the market over the next few months. But Android is open, and allows any device maker, including Nokia, to build phones on its software.

This morning, when the original story about Nokia embracing Android surfaced, we reached out to Symbian Foundation Executive Director Lee Williams (left) for comment. While he did not want to comment on whether Nokia is building on Android, deferring to Nokia for comment instead, he did say Symbian is also embracing Qt. He said it forms a key piece of the Symbian platform in 2010 and will let Symbian provide an OS that outperforms competitors (and is free and completely open). He said Qt would support Android soon. Here’s part of his email (our emphasis added in bold):

“The next generation UI for the whole Symbian platform implements a new Direct UI, preserves the world’s most widely used Focused UI, supports more screen resolutions and form factor standards, includes gesture and new sensor frameworks, and implements a collection of open and defacto industry standards, including a new QT core merged with Webkit, and yes, it exposes a strong graphics HW acceleration capability.…Qt is portable and will exist on many platforms and it would certainly be great for developers to see Qt on Android and iPhone and Windows Mobile, and…”


Motorola Woos Android Developers

The cellphone maker is investing in developers months before its Android phones launch.

It's no secret that Motorola Co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha is betting on Google's Android mobile platform to bolster his company's faltering cellphone business.

Motorola ( MOT - news - people ) has repeatedly declined to comment on its much-anticipated Android phones. But it has been relatively open about its desire to recruit Android developers. Staffers at its MOTODEV developer network have spent the past several weeks reaching out to Android developers through weekly podcasts, meet-and-greets, and tutorials commissioned from experts.

The activities, which mostly began in mid-May and take place online, offer a glimpse of Motorola's goals for its Android devices. In a video uploaded to the developer blog in late May, Motorola's senior director of developer platforms and services, Dino Brusco, talked up Android's potential, praising the operating system's "deep integration with mobile Web services" and its "power to enable truly innovative applications." He concluded the video by saying, "We want all of you to join us in our partnership with Google and journey with Android," and noted that Motorola will help developers create, deploy and market their applications.

With the smart-phone battles increasingly hinging on the number of intriguing and useful applications available for a particular device or operating system, developer support is more crucial than ever to phone makers' success. Motorola executives confirmed in an interview that they are on the hunt for developer talent. After partnering with MOTODEV--which coordinates developer efforts across all of Motorola's businesses--to flesh out their ideas, developers will be able to distribute their apps through a variety of channels, including Google's ( GOOG - news - people ) Android Market, carrier stores, third party distributors and direct sales, says Christy Wyatt, the company's vice president of software platforms. Motorola may also install some standout applications on its phones.

Motorola believes it will offer developers two important advantages: a broad portfolio of Android devices and global distribution. The company's Android phones will span the consumer and enterprise markets and range from mid- to high-tier in pricing, says Wyatt. Some handsets will specialize in messaging and multimedia. Despite its recent woes, Motorola still has strong ties to operators around the world.

Participants generally applauded Motorola's efforts. "I've talked to a lot of folks at Motorola, and it's really an integrated effort," says Sean Galligan, vice president of business development at mobile analytics firm Flurry, which has been featured on Motorola's developer blog.

Indeed, Wyatt, who is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., near Google's headquarters, jokes that her team drops by the Internet giant's offices so often that they "probably drive [Google]crazy."

T-Mobile offers a good online forum for Android developers, says Scott Webster, head of the popular Android-centric blog, AndroidGuys. But Webster says the carrier doesn't seem "as dedicated" to Android as Motorola. "[Motorola is] answering questions, promoting Android sites and working with developers. It puts a real face to the company," he adds.

One way Motorola is getting real face time with developers is through "meet-ups" in cities ranging from Chicago to Sunnyvale to London. The company hosted about 100 Android developers in Silicon Valley in mid-June. Austin Teames, a product manager at San Mateo, Calif.-based Trilibis Mobile who organized the event, said Motorola provided meeting space, pizza and other refreshments for the developers, but didn't actively participate in the day's presentations and panels. At one point, a developer asked the employees about Motorola's Android plans. Teames reports that they politely avoided disclosing any details.

To get quality applications tailored to their upcoming phones, Motorola will need to divulge a bit more. "They can't be that active in creating developer resources until they have a device they can speak specifically about," notes Mark Chang, an engineering professor at Olin College who teaches Android development.

Wyatt says that Motorola is already working to bring Android applications to market, even if consumers won't see them until later this year. "We've been relatively quiet because we've been revamping a lot of our platforms, [but] we are definitely open for business," she says. Developers that partnered with Motorola on previous applications are being "fast tracked" through the Android process, as are some "tier one" developers from well-known firms, says Claudia Backus, Motorola's senior director of ecosystems. The public can expect to get access to Motorola's Android-specific developer tools, including software development kits, later this year.

It's too early to tell how many developers will entrust Motorola with their ideas. But if Motorola only manages to convert a sector of its own developers to Android, it will likely have plenty of manpower. The company says "millions" of developers are already involved in its broader MOTODEV network.

In the meantime, gadget blogs like Boy Genius Report keep people guessing about Motorola's device plans. AndroidGuys' Webster says he thinks two handsets, code-named Calgary and Morrison, will debut this winter on Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, respectively. Both sport large touch-screens with sliding Qwerty keyboards, but appear to target different consumers (high-end versus entry level). AT&T ( T - news - people ) is also rumored to be getting a Motorola Android phone, and there has been chatter about Motorola crafting an Android device that can run on Sprint Nextel's ( S - news - people ) iDEN network.


Blueprints af Sony Ericsson X2 her.

Sony Ericsson ”Rachael” is the codename of the Swedes' first Android-based mobile phone, that is expected to be announced later this year. It will be part of Sony Ericsson's series of XPERIA products. We've got our hands on internal documents about the phone, that seems to have the potential to be a sales success.

The phone is based on the Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon platform, that enables processor speeds up to 1 GHz, and HSPA-speeds up to 7.2 Mbps. This platform will also sport great 3D graphics capabilities.

The phone's built-in camera is an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus. There's also a 3.5 mm jack connector as well as a mini-USB connector at the top of the phone. The touch screen appears to be rather large, and according to our sources its diagonal measures no less than 4 inches. As of now, we have no word on the screen resolution, but it'll probably end up at 800 x 480 pixels (WVGA) or so.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

HTC Releases Third Android Phone, Sporting New Look And Flash

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has released its third Android phone, the HTC Hero, which has been picked up by France Telecom’s UK carrier Orange, as the first Android device in its portfolio of phones, the companies said today.

The Hero also sports the smartphone maker’s new user interface, HTC Sense. The UI, which has been two years in the making will be used in all forthcoming HTC devices, and according to the company, will help set it apart from its competitors. Sense, for example, does not organize the phone’s interface by application, but rather by a person’s contacts. Instead of digging through various applications, all communications with a contact—whether through Facebook, Flickr photos, text messages, emails, or call history—are all organized in one view.

The HTC Hero is just one of a number of Android phones launching this summer. HTC’s new interface, however, gives a hint at the level of differentiation that handset makers can achieve with the operating system. One thing that the HTC Hero is also able to support is Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Flash, the technology that runs much of the video on the internet today, and has so far been conspicuously absent from the iPhone. Adobe has said it is still “committed� to bring Flash to the iPhone, though it needs help from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) to do so.

Orange UK plans to begin selling the phone in July, when it will be available to customers for free on to a 2-year £39.15 ($64) monthly plan. The plan includes 1200 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, as well as unlimited internet access. The Hero goes on sale later this summer in Asia and will be available in the US by the end of the year.