Mobility Archives

March 6, 2004

Nokia 3650 Mobility Device

Ok this is the second time I'm trying to share with you details about my new phone. Rather than rant because I lost the last post I'll just try and reconstruct some key points and get on with my life.

I have a new mobility device. I threw away my old provider Verizon and went to T-Mobile last week so I could hook up with a Nokia 3650. The decision was not without pain. So more than one story will emerge from my learnings. There were some specific things I wanted. First and foremost the capability to start photoblogging or moblogging depending on your definition. Nokia Brochure.jpg

I've also been postponing this purchase for some time. My old Motorola StarTac was over four years old. So moving to a camera phone was a natural step. I also wanted a bluetooth capability to experiment with (more on that later too) and only later learned that it contained the PDA functions I wantedStarTAC.jpg

Some things about me as a user. I've never used texting on the phone. In the US that has been virtually impossible. While I tried the early web browsing experience it sucked and so I've not been a subscriber. I've been thinking about a new PDA but am postponing until I can secure a WiFi one that I know will work perfectly with Skype or similar program.

The Nokia was completely undersold by T-Mobile (I'll post notes on the Retailing Experience later.) Now that I've played with it I find it takes pretty good photos. They are easy to e-mail and share. That for me is more compelling than I ever expected. My plan now gives me unlimited photo sending. I started with my first photo-darkroom when I was in the sixth grade so I've had a long time interest in photography. The Nokia certainly doesn't provide the darkroom, but it does provide the instant joy of sharing. (I've already ordered the upgraded memory card to 68mb). kpic.jpg
I've never had a wallet full of pictures before. I soon will. My laptop has many pictures but I seldom open it to share them. This phone allows me to send a picture a day to my family in NZ without even thinking about. It's done right then when the moment is captured.

There are some weird things like the round keyboard that caused me to pause. I find it works for me already. But really I'll never use it for dialing calls. All my key numbers are now voice activated and my Outlook contact list is now synched with my PC. It will connect with my e-mail, take calls forwarded from my office phone etc. All in all very impressive. Now I should add that I have invested more than a few hours playing with it and mastering what it will do. I'm not the normal user in this regard.

The downside of this phone. It is larger than I wanted although it fits very comfortably into my large hand. Here's proof of my hand size and the speed in which it can be inserted. I seldom carry a phone on a belt loop so this shouldn't be a problem. With a bluetooth headset it will just live in my pack voice activated dialing my calls hand.jpg

If you want a phone and not a mobility device forget this phone get something smaller. If you want to get something at a reasonable price $149 with one year contract via T-Mobile and experiment with where photography, PDA's and mobility is going without buying a lusted after Sony Erikson P900 or even the more recently announced Nokia's Communicator then it is a bargain.

The box did not contain a CD-Rom for the Nokia PCSuite which I had to download from Nokia. This was one of the bonuses I discovered after buying the phone. Neither the T-Mobile rep or the materials I generally looked at suggested that this synch process would be possible or easy with my infared equiped laptop. Turns out it is. However I did have to read the manual to learn about it.

Communicating what the future is mobile phones will be doing makes it increasingly apparent that this is a retailing and marketing disaster area. I'm going to make that more clear in future posts. I'd also add that it's still too hard for most people. I've optimised to 85% how I can use this phone in a week. I'm actually ready for the next level. See the lusted after products above. For those that just want a phone. Buy something else!

Oh did I tell you you can shoot a video with it! Well here is the link to the first Nokia 3650 Music Video! Take a look -- amazing. Quality is a little rough! Plus there is no reason not to use it for audio blogging as well!

So to conclude this post... I now want a phone camera with at least SVGA quality. I think that may stress out the phone companies. There still seem to be some issues with GPRS and file sizes. What's interesting is that Kodak really doesn't get this either. When websharing of pictures becomes so simple and immediate the concept of going to Longs and having your disk printed seems a little silly. Click and e-mail. Holiday pictures the new way.

BTW: Verizon's faults. They were unable to offer the above functionality in a compatible phone. They are significantly more expensive than the other options and I've put up with their sucky service at my home for four years so a two year contract with them was out of the question. I can also check my minutes anytime with T-Mobile. It's just #min#.

March 7, 2004

Testing MobileMt

» remote entry created using mobileMT.

This application was easy to install.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (the balance of this entry was added afterwards)

This WAP interface application was easy to install on my server. Now any registered author on my MT system can post text to my blogs at any time from any WAP enabled phone. Edit entries etc. Unfortuately, image uploading is impossible.

Try BlogPlanet

Test using BlogPlanet.

This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit

xxxxxxxxxxx (additional summary later) BlogPlanet and KaBlog appear similar. There is not much between them. I downloaded this to my PC and then installed the java application on my Nokia 3650. BlogPlanets documentation is better than Kablog's. Both of these are limited for picture quality.

Kablog Trial


Testing xxxxxxxxxxxxx (summary on these to come) It is hard to differentiate Kablog from BlogPlanet. KaBlog in my view has a slightly better interface although the documentation and links to the files are worse than bad. Both these programs take over the camera with resulting deterioration in photo quality. Nice if you only want postage stamps. The photo's above are as big as the quality will allow. Clearly an e-mail to blog solution that enables a higher quality standard is preferred. BTW... The Symbian download on the Kablog page is faulty. I installed the Java app. I wouldn't touch this one without someupgrade in details. It appears to have been abandoned. Both Kablog and BlogPlanet are similar to using a program like wBloggar or MoveablePoster. Russell Beattie wrote both of these up quite some time ago.

March 13, 2004

Looking at Stuff 4th Street

Through the lens... capturing items in stores. I've captured more that 100 pictures this week people, products etc, and sent at least 50. Is it a short term thing or a new habit? It may just be the latter. Thanks to the phone.

choc bunny food.jpg darwinschildren.jpg Face.jpg EST Book.jpg
decorations.jpg larry niven.jpg not mums spin brush.jpg Times Eye.jpg
artist fonts.jpg french soap.jpg strange marmalade.jpg plate.jpg

March 21, 2004

Mobility Games

I've been souping up my Nokia 3560 again over the weekend. I've added an Photographer, Opera Browser and Agile Messenger, plus numerous games. This is in addition to the Kablog and BlogPlanet aspects I've already experimented with. Some real successes and some troubles with Bluetooth along the way.

Expermimenting with Photograhers panorama function.


I found most of these via these links for getting the most out of the Nokia 3560 and the Symbian platform. See this PAGE for links. Plus here is the Symbian wiki and MySymbian appears to be a good source.

04031.jpg First up, mirror images... Photographer! It adds new functionality to your camera. From a 5X zoom, to a panorama camera plus masks and trick effects. Next weekend I may just try one of the video products that enables videos longer than a minute. (Example: 3GPP Camcorder Pro -- I upgraded to a 128kb card in the phone.) Althought I'm not about to make music videos. For mobloggers take a look at TextAmerica, or Mobi2pic which also enables short movies in your MT blog.

I added the Opera web browser. I've still learning the keys to fast surfing and the response via GPRS is fairly mediocre. I won't be doing a lot of surfing using this method. Number one like was being able to Google anywhere and click quickly to Google news. Will have to bookmark a few more sites. Opera likes a lot of memory, so no other programs run at the same time. It uses the full screen very effectively.

The program I've found most interesting in the last week is Agile Messenger. This is Trillian for the cellphone. It enable concurrent connections to all the major IM providers, AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo. Thus it's the closest you can come to managing presence on your cellphone! Wonder if Skype might launch a stripped down text only messenger for cellphones? That could be an interesting product. Let me share --- subject to some further testing. I made a laptop to bluetooth to Cellphone to Internet Connection and then made a short Skype connection before being dropped. My neighborhood isn't the best for this. I think a GPRS connection should be similar to a dial-up modem but am sure it can be slower. Maybe it is just latency in this type of connection?

This resulted from the last leg of the weekend experiments which got bluetooth running on my T-40 laptop pairing it with the 3650. My first experience with bluetooth failed. I used a D-Link USB bluetooth adapter and returned it after n times trying to install it and make it work. I finally got it working after ordering a Belkin card via IBM. I'm not that enamoured with Bluetooth. My bluetooth headset had to be returned (it was not Nokia) because it was incompatible with the 3650. Still to get my Internet connection it took a final hint from T-Mobiles technical department. Setting that weren't installed or explained at the store when I bought the plan. I am not alone. See this discussion for problems installing you are not alone. However if you have a T-Mobile Internet account $19.99 per month you can use it all you want. That's a good deal... still careful you end up like Joi Ito. So I checked the rates for global roaming $15-$20/mb! WOW!

June 9, 2004

Social Tools + Mobility

Stowe Boyd has a nice post in DarwinMag this month on "The State of Social Tools". I like the tone and was great to learn that Stowe is now at Corante. Congratulations Stowe! There is a nice clear structure and set of points in the article. Let me share a couple of lines before adding my two cents.

The big story is that the global computer network is an enormous chat room, enabling us to collaborate in unexpected, complex and novel ways. We are experimenting with new social systems, systems that to an unprecedented degree involve software and hardware.

The State of Social Tools - Darwin Magazine

My issue is where is the thinking about mobility and conversation velocity. I infer from the article that this convergence will take place on laptops and desktops although I think the real impact will be felt in mobility devices. Current demos show capability and potential for the social revolution to come. How those handheld / wearable devices work with everything will be key.

The element that bothers me more and more is that the focus in these discussions on social tools without stepping back and looking at the environment in which we work. The State of Social Tools contains a reference to voice yet reads text and desktop centric. The most socialized tool in the workspace after the pen and paper is the telephone. Somehow it isnt mentioned. Then neither is the cellphone. Are we assuming too much or not looking at where the real revolution must start?

July 1, 2004

More at Your Fingertips

Macromedia Flash Lite 1.1 announcement is yet another signal to pay more attention to mobility devices. We are nearing a point where things we are accustomed to finding on a PC can now be adapted to small mobile devices. I wonder what new uses this will be put to?

Last week I mentioned an article on developing Flash applications for Pocket PCs, well you can now bring the similar Flash UI to cell phones as well via Macromedia's latest development called Flash Lite 1.1.Flash Lite is the Macromedia Flash profile specifically developed for mobile phones. Flash Lite has seen explosive adoption by Japanese consumers and developers alike, and now it is quickly gaining adoption from operators and manufacturers outside of Japan.

This growth is driven by the powerful Flash rendering engine that delivers consistent experiences across operating systems, processors, and screen sizes. It is supported by the strong community of Flash developers around the world. The initial feedback is clear: Flash dramatically accelerates the development of great content and interfaces for mobile phones.
Copyright: Copyright (c) 2001 by Boston PocketPC]

July 28, 2004

Broadband Parasites

Jeff Pulver's blog posts come without any fulll feed subscription so I scan the titles from time to time and then visit (I can provide the full feed template!). Today this took me to a post of Broadband Parasites, however what I found most interesting was this quote on his original paper from one year ago. Jeff is not alone in thinking that mobility is the real VoIP play.

To keep things even more interesting, think about using the internet to peer between broadband based voice over broadband service providers and wireless service providers. If/when this is done correctly, it will have an impact on the importance and strength of what is and was the "legacy phone network." The Jeff Pulver Blog: The Rise of the Broadband Parasites

Om Malik's VoIP Daily » IP Mobility unplugged

From Om Malik:
I have long believed that the mobile operators should be the ones to integrate VoIP offerings. Forget Vonage, if Verizon Wireless offered a VoIP service (over my DSL or cable modem) that integrates with my wireless device, enabling me to synchronize my phone book (on my phone and via outlook on my desktop) I would sign up right away. And with the integration with at home VoIP with my mobile phone, I would be less likely to churn from Verizon when Cingular comes up with a better pricing plan. Tim McDonald

It won't be just voice and data specific. It a knowledge society where people collaborate, communications will be the marriage of high quality multimedia, voice and all enabled by broadband. The network today treats me as a fixed part of the network. I think the network in the future would be intelligent enough to see me as a person. Greg Mumford
Om Malik's VoIP Daily » IP Mobility unplugged

Then like HP's latest announcement for IPAQ we know the converged devices are coming.

However, on the flip side, a VoIP implementation in the shape of mobile over WLAN (MoWLAN) may also be a way for mobile operators to eat more of the fixed-line operator's PSTN lunch in both the home and enterprise. Kineto Wireless, a US-based start-up, certainly seems to think so and so it should - the company manufactures the kit that makes MoWLAN possible.

"By offloading [cellular] traffic onto the WLAN network they [mobile operators] can put themselves in a position to offer competitive 'homezone' tariffs and displace more fixed-line traffic."
a title="Telecommunications Online " href="">Telecommunications Online
Telecommunications Online

July 30, 2004

iTunes Phone

It was inevitable that iTunes would converge with mobile phones. It also completely true to form that Apple would come out fighting about Real Networks Harmony move. Both these players work in walled garden worlds.

Taking that old alliance into the digital media era, now the iTunes capability will be included in all of Motorola's mass market music phones, the two companies said,
- what operator in its right mind will allow music on and off a phone that it controls, to a PC? So far, music offerings from carriers, such as MMO2s dedicated music player, have been focused on keeping users within the walled garden. In the PC environment, the operator has no chance of making a margin on the music or on the download data communication time.

The It was inevitable that iTunes would converge with mobile phones. It also completely true to form that Apple would come out fighting about Real Networks Harmony move. Both these players work in walled garden worlds.

Taking that old alliance into the digital media era, now the iTunes capability will be included in all of Motorola's mass market music phones, the two companies said,
- what operator in its right mind will allow music on and off a phone that it controls, to a PC? So far, music offerings from carriers, such as MMO2s dedicated music player, have been focused on keeping users within the walled garden. In the PC environment, the operator has no chance of making a margin on the music or on the download data communication time.
The Register

Consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod," executives of Real Networks said in a statement. "Harmony follows in a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility."
The New York Times

Operators are too concerned about users circumventing networks rather than fostering connectivity. From the RIAA to Apple and the carriers all are trying to create walled gardens. A much broader look is required at the opportunities and the convergence now being enabled. Consumer rights are increasingly being threatened by these moves. The technology must flow with peoples lives and needs while making it happen seemlessly.

August 1, 2004

Everything Cell Phones

To me via Smart Mobs.

The handset is rapidly consuming every other aspect of mobile consumer electronics: PDAs, cameras, GPS receivers, MP3 players, DVD players and game consoles. In the process, the SoC companies and intellectual-property (IP) providers that had planned to make a living in each of those areas will be drawn in — for the most part, to their doom.

Convergence is being driven by a simple consumer want: "Don't make me carry a bagful of toys when one will do." Two electronic gizmos in a package are better than one, as long as the form factor doesn't get out of control or the user interface become inscrutable. This is what's happening with second- or third-generation PDA/cell phone combinations, which are rapidly spreading through the ranks of professional users.

At the same time, the very cellular handsets that are bringing them nothing are destroying the SoC vendors' original markets. Free handsets with 2- to 3-megapixel cameras, good MP3 players, decent organizers and good videogames will decimate each of those standalone markets. The only survivors among mobile consumer devices will be high-end niches temporarily beyond the reach of the handset's electronics professional digital cameras, for example.
EE Timesl

August 2, 2004

Social Identity - Mobility Changing Meaning

Clay Shirky links to a mobility piece by Mimi Ito and reminds me of an article I read and never got around to blogging. 'Exploring the implications for social identity of the new sociology of the mobile phone'.

Mobile phones are transforming the experience of place and co-presence for a wireless generation of Japanese youth. In the past, physical co-presence generally defined who one was socially and interactionally accountable to at any given time, interrupted occasionally by a telephone call or a beeping pager. Now that mobile phones have become a norm for youths in Japan as elsewhere, distant others are always socially co-present, and place – where you locate yourself – has become a hybrid relation between physical and wirelessly co-present context. receiver

September 21, 2004

Mobile + SIP Convergence

More on how converged networks mean I could get my cellphone ringing on my PC, my homephone ringing on my Wi-Fi enabled cell phone etc.?

The initiative shows that, however reluctant some cellcos have been to embrace Wi-Fi and the potential erosion of GPRS/3G revenues, there is now a critical mass of operators that realize multiple networks are the way of the future. Wireline and full service carriers such as BT and France Telecom are also moving rapidly towards converged next generation networks and services that support cellular, wired telephony, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi/cellular hand-off standard proposed :: Voip User ::

Be interesting to see some mobile operators provide some SIP interconnect packages. At least then i could effectively use my cellphone number on my computer at home. This is not a new thought.

"We believe SIP-based instant messaging on the fixed Internet could take off as fast as SMS and create a significant market for SMS to SIP gateways. In this scenario, it is likely that mobile operators will benefit most from SIP deployment." Session Initiation Protocol: SIP

January 9, 2006

Nokia LifeBlog at CES

I've been using the Nokia LifeBlog program to upload all my photos from my N90 mobile phone... no that is a camera to my PC. I put my camera down and via bluetooth all the photos are transferred. The cable supplied would be quicker I just don't want to carry it. Sharing the Lifeblog with others has a real wow factor.

This picture of my Lifeblog with mini pictures from CES displays what's generally happened to my picture taking.

Nokia LifeBlog1.png

It's hard not to be impressed with this program. It's the only album I know that is functioning like a lifestream / timeline of events. It also includes messages etc. I've not yet used it's post to blog capability. I'll be trying that out later.

There are a few gripes.

  • You have to have Nokia's PCSuite involved to synch with the phone. Unfortunately, the Lifeblog isn't part of the Suite, so periodically the synch fails. Usually when the calendar program synch is fighting with the Lifeblog update.

  • I also really resent that in Lifeblog mode it takes over your screen. It is either full screen or minimized. This is just plain inconvenient. Similarly Nokia inserts a branding page that I must click through everytime I open this program.

  • The video opens up in a doublesize format so it doesn't present the way others will see it in Quicktime. This also results in a visible deterioration in visual quality.

  • There is also no way to redirect the location for the image files. They are buried in a Nokia my documents folder and require a couple of clicks to get to them outside the program.

    Still if there was ever a tool that encouraged you to keep a record of daily events and even include a self-reflective private video blog this is it.

    While this software is pioneering it could be taking the metaphor and activity so much further. While I saw some "catch-up" on the picture front (eg Kodak and Motorola) Nokia has a big head start. It would be a fun project to work on LifeBlog 3.0.

    In the end I'd probably prefer to have all my photos on the web. As yet there is no way for me to "post all to website" or "post to public" vs "private" in simple actions. I don't mind using the PC and my broadband connection as the intermediary. It will be time to investigate the blog posting features soon.

    In the meantime I'm hooked!

  • January 30, 2006

    A Kodak Moment at CES

    I'd meant to post some CES video weeks ago. One of the nice learnings I've had from the Nokia N90 is the power of putting it in another person's hands. This video demonstrates the appeal for others curious to try it out. It certainly has a WOW factor.

    If I was a little more pitch centric or autobiographical I'd consider using this approach myself to keep a daily record. Holding the N90 camera in the self-portrait mode requires some learning. Still it's not hard. It also takes a tremendous video.

    Chris Pirillo

    I'm not sure about the new found power to stick a video in someone's face. He thinks Skype is bullshit and Google Talk well.... but the final moment on "What's the Point!" highlights his real character. If a picture is worth a thousand words; a video can simply be priceless.

    For years we've kept the videos we made of the kids growing up etc. They are hours and hours long. They have never been edited. Somehow this phone is enabling me to create little short videos, memory flashes if you will. If I master it I know I will be doing more video.

    Separately, with the T-Mobile unlimited data package I have I'm simply emailing these whenever I want. The only learning. Keep the phone out of your pocket. It gets hot when you have three five minute videos queued up for sending.

    February 1, 2006

    Nokia N90

    I have quite a dilemma. Actually it is one many of you would love to have. I've experienced absolute envy from friends and new acquaintances over the last 8 weeks while trying out the Nokia N90, simply the slickest video phone I know. (Oh yes I saw some Samsung knockoffs at CES however I've not lived with them.) My problem is Nokia just shipped me a Nokia N70 which has only just been released here. Effectively it promises to do everything the N90 does and more in a smaller package. My heart sank when this new phone arrived. Was it time to give up the N90? Would I miss it?

    So what is it that the N90 has done really well? (Context. I have a T-Mobile USA account with a GPRS unlimited data plan. I've run that for the last few years with a Nokia 3650 an early Smart Phone).

    The Great!
    Fantastic Pictures and Videos. Makes you rethink the device. It feels right taking pictures with it. If you like photography then this format is a great way to take pictures. The transformer design easily balances in your hand. In this format it also communicates readily to others what you are doing. Others quickly identify it as a video camera. The memory card that came with it would allow you to make a 30 minute video if you wanted. I've found the 1-2 minute video is actually more fun. Plus the video self mode or video self /couple mode is excellent.

    Image! Envy! Fact is you will have a camera everywhere. It's more than that. The angle of the screen in camera mode means the phone is not infront of your face. Most other camera phones you hold up to your face so you can see the screen. Here you don't. It's also a very tactile device. The opening and closing just means people keep playing with it. I've watched others on the program with it. Open shut, etc. It puts that itch there to use it.

    The Good.

    Continue reading "Nokia N90" »

    February 8, 2006

    Navigating the Way - GPS and the Nokia N70

    I received a box last weekend. It was marked Nokia GPS Module LD-1W. While I quickly figured out it was a Bluetooth enabled GPS device I had no idea what it was for or how to use it.

    The bafflement came to an end when I was given URL to go and download the Wayfinder GPS Mapping software. This review is more about the software than the GPS device which is smaller than the phone and can be worn or hung and works outdoors.

    Wayfinder turns your phone into a GPS unit that is on par with some of the better units in cars. As someone that's never had a GPS unit or the extra dollars to put one in my 15 year old car I was keen to try it out. I downloaded it and transferred the program to the Nokia N70 (a very sweet phone) that recently arrived. Now I had something. Alas in the beginning it presented a map miles from anywhere I am. In the end it took a couple of attempts to locate where I live. I have a sucky coverage at home. Finally the GPRS and the GPS unit connected and worked.

    Continue reading "Navigating the Way - GPS and the Nokia N70" »

    September 21, 2006

    Is Texting (SMS) Killing Chat?

    Is there a future for IM (Instant Messaging) as we know it? Or is it ripe for real innovation? Does it remain a killer application? Or are Skype, Yahoo, Aim, MSN etc... all fatally flawed? Why do mobile operators and handset manufacturers ignore the facts. Why does my mobile remain call centric in a text centric world? I don't know the answer. I did want a provocative intro, share some observations, note some reservations and almost jump to some conclusions..... I'll start with a story about my kids.

    Early this year T-Mobile USA announced a special family deal for unlimited text messaging. Then it was $9.99 (all you could eat family of four) today the same option is $19.99. Concurrently they raised individual text message charges to 10cents for both receiving and sending from 5 cents. Until that point my kids had effectively been banned from text messaging. Something that may seem strange in other countries encouraged by other cost structures. I changed my plan. My kids now have unlimted text messaging.

    The outcome. In every month since, my two kids (14 and 17) have averaged 500 text messages inbound and outbound. As a family we went from maybe 30 text messages a month to over 2000 (in and out combined). I've watched this pattern now for six months. It's a static level and my kids operate now in a different paradigm.

    Changing Texting Observations.

    • Circle of Friends: The kids text within an inner circle. It's a relatively small group. From this group they like the interruptions or pings of a new message coming in. My son in particular will often text rather than call. They use text messaging in a real-time way. For the most part they answer and have short exchanges. Calls don't happen unless its free time or there is some quick organizing to do. Meeting where, driving etc.

    • Less IM: My daughter has all but abandoned AIM. My son continues to use IM systems however, it's not the primary mode of communication. The mobile is. From what I see / observe / and they have reported they use IM significantly less now than six months ago. Most of their friends I think are similar. They too have unlimited text messaging. I'd make some observations about their phones separately.

    • Locked Down. IM systems are often locked down. Privacy limits communications to buddies if a "spam" problem exists. The mobile is also locked down currently. It costs money to call or send a message.. although from their perspective messaging is now free. An important aspect and possible change here. Their mobile number is more important than their AIM handle. It's the always on connection for them. It's also privacy related.

    • Presence: The current availability, away, not available etc. presence message isn't doing anything to retain users. (I'll look at that in more detail in a separate post.) Where there is already intimacy with an inner circle of friends "you know" roughly what they are up to. Need proof? Why is it that voice centric IM clients like Skype simply result in chats "can you talk now / context?" first? Simply, the presence systems aren't adding major value.

    Continue reading "Is Texting (SMS) Killing Chat?" »

    September 28, 2006

    Fring - Fringing Interesting

    Fring, a new mobile app looks interesting. I want to try it out on my N80 with Wi-Fi and so do many others in the Fring forums. Come on Fring make it available for the N80 and N91. I'd say "fringing fantastic!". Lots of claims on the Fring about page including Skype and GoogleTalk compatibility.

    "fring is a 3G mobile application that allows you to make free mobile calls, send instant messages to other fring users, and communicate with PC based VoIP applications such as Skype and Google Talk." Fring

    Andy points me to a new Ken Camp. Alonge with VoiPNow they talk Fring. The Red Ferret really has the low down. Unfortunately, I can't test it till I get home and change handsets. It will work on Nokia N70's and similar. The challenge for Fring is there just aren't enough handsets out there yet. For my two cents. Go after Nokia N80 and N91 users.

    The Wi-Fi enablement in these handsets makes the 3G connection irrelevant. My guess is a flat rate GPRS in that mode is all you need. The people already buying the N80 and N91 are ready to push them to the limit. It will spread. At the moment these handsets lack applications that really use their WiFi strength. Example Shozu2.0 preview. It's is set up to synch when I'm on Wi-Fi hotspots; like work and home. I don't burn a data plan when traveling outside the US and I still get my Rocketboom on my mobile.. It could become much cooler.

    Still someone is going to ask. Will the operators block it?

    October 4, 2006

    Missed Call 'Saab'? - India Outs Voice Mail

    I've had many a hairy ride in auto rickshaws. These three wheel contraptions squeeze in and out.. have no lane sense ... and now have a new angle on how to make and save money with their cheap cell phones and missed calls. Early on I went out and got myself a prepaid Hutch card. A friendly driver taking me around Delhi explained the missed call. When you come back out of the store... ring me twice... .and I'll come and pick you up. This extends everywhere in the transport sector. Send a couple of rings and the drivers come running. They would take the call (for the most part they don't understand me so what's the point) as it is no cost to them. The counter is, those short missed calls often signal that the driver is arriving.

    So in India we have cheap phones, recharges for less than a dollar and the missed call leverages the whole system. It seems India lives very effectively without voice mail as the default. This really is a stark contrast to the US.

    My mobile experience is really very much like the majority of Indians. I may put a little more money on my prepaid card. Still the basic feature set... it does SMS and makes calls is the same. It does not do voice mail. Voice Mail is not a default here. In fact the learning I have is just forget about voice mail. If you can't get through and need to leave a message then send an SMS. Frankly it is much more useful. It provides context, it is a quick read and importantly it doesn't cost you minutes to retrieve the message which too often is long and garbled.

    Lesson for America's tortured mobile system. Charging for receiving SMS's make that whole system counterproductive and often costs the receiver real bucks unless they have an SMS plan . Voice Mail, simply costs minutes to retrieve and is really less efficient. As I've noted before voice mail is a failure case. The caller failed to connect. As a T-Mobile USA user I'd happily turn my Voice Mail off based on my Indian experience. I don't think that's possible.

    I think America is suffering from a legacy approach. Imagine you are in a meeting. What's the point of a voice mail when you could have answered quickly with a text message. One interruption you could handle the other you could not. Of course thousands of Americans have worked this out. They use their Blackberries and Treo's for e-mail messaging. The messaging happens in real time amongst their intimate circle. Yet that is still an exclusive club.

    India is bypassing voice mail. I'm sure they will adopt rapidly certain forms of PTT (push to talk) and voice messaging. However, their learning and adoption of the text message rather than long voice mails is a blessing for longer term communications development.

    October 5, 2006

    Mobility & Wi-Fi on Nokia's N80, N91 & E61

    There's finally a new meme linking mobile, VoIP and Wi-Fi. These posts are are just the beginning. See Jim Courtney who wraps up a collection of posts. This meme is something I've believed was coming and known instantly from the first day I put the Nokia N91 and N80 in my hand. Both these handsets have Wi-Fi. They change immediately how you think about using your mobile.

    Example 1. I've been testing Shozu Preview 2.0. Shozu was already a great program for one-click photo uploads to sites like Flickr. In 2.0 mode Shozu is demonstrating an RSS like subscription model for Vlogs and Photo content. I get Rocketboom updates daily to my N80. I don't pay a dime or even a cent for data while travelling in India. It's set to synch everytime I enter my friendly Indian office Wi-Fi zone. At home I switch to my home network. Now I'd like YouTube direct... I'll watch it in the back of the car on the way home.

    Example 2. My son synchs his email on an N91 while on campus. He doesn't have a data plan. Similarly he can upload picture to flickr or blog via LifeBlog or use other services this way. You should have heard his positive response to a link sharing Fring last week. While the programs are currently lacking the Mylo-ed handset represents a real bonus for college students on "hot" campuses.

    Example 3. See this instruction for putting your SIP connection on an E62. Now VoIP on Symbian mobile. I still have to work this out for the N80 with my Sipphone account. Anyone know how?

    Most of us don't need expensive data plans to add significant utility to the phone.. At work and home provide lots of opportunity for mobile devices enhanced with Wi-Fi. My guess is the data plan becomes more valuable when you've been training yourself to run all your data and event notifications via your mobile. Wi-Fi experimentation is a next step in mobile progress without expensive new commitments to mobile operators. It's just a more expensive phone.

    Other than Agile Messenger I still have yet to see a really good mobile chat client. None of the majors AIM, Yahoo, Google etc appear to have anything. Skype doesn't appear to have a step by step mobile strategy. They could have executed on a chat client years ago on Symbian. I'd think they could also execute on a Wi-Fi functioning Voice client.

    Nokia N80 - Mobile TV - Radio

    Here I am in India with 50+ cable channels to watch and just like home there's nothing much worth seeing. With no "fast broadband" connection at home I can forget Slingbox for now. So how do I cope? Simple. I bring the small amount of TV with me.

    At home the Tivo records the programs I want to watch. Tivo then passes them over to my home PC via TivoToGo (extra cost software) and they are all converted into Quicktime movies. Before leaving home I simply burn one or two DVD's with last month's content. Simple. I can watch it via iTunes or even on my Nokia N80.

    The latter really intrigued me. How would I find TV watching on the small screen of a mobile phone. After all it is even smaller than the Video iPod. Actually, it's very impressive. It's not big screen big, however the clarity and general watch-ability are just fine. I have a one GB memory card in the N80. Thus it will take a three hour movie or 3 hourly installments of House and still leave room for photography. It's really more fiction than pleasure, however with a few changes I'd get a real kick out of what I could do. Still I know I am not alone. The first thing my son did with the N91 was upload Family Guy segments (I'll blog his initial thoughts separately). Videos were more use to him (more impressive and entertaining) than filling it with music.

    So where is YouTube  for my Nokia with best of the day, perhaps the latest IT conversations. In this way the N80 really has something over the iPod Video. I don't synch my iPod daily. Too much hassle. I synch it before trips generally to get a selective list of Podcast updates. I then listen on the plane.

    By contrast the N80 with Wi-Fi can capture this without access or docking with a computer. When I can get a 4GB card for it I'll add it. When would I look? Standing in lines, waiting for lunch, going home in the back of the car? So I'm convinced. I want an iPodder for it and I want it to auto schedule downloads over Wi-Fi.

    January 31, 2007

    GizmoVoip Truphone Talkster Jajah Mashup

    Mobile VoIP update.  These are my impressions of GizmoVoip, Truphone, Talkster, and Jajah. I've been using and trying to use them all on my Nokia N80i, which I'm still raving about; especially the VoIP functionality. So how well do these programs work?

    First a little perspective. I got them all working in the US over Christmas. As a family we began using GizmoVoIP to call New Zealand in preference to the usual SkypeOut as the Nokia provides an effective Speaker Phone capability. That was worth the extra call costs on these occasions. For the last few weeks I've been back in India. Frankly that is where the real tests and benefits begin. Saved a small fortune already.

    At the apartment I have an Indian quality broadband connection; they claim 275K down and 150K up however this afternoon it was 70K down and I have no idea of the up speed. Sometimes I do see the higher speeds, still this is a long way from our office performance or what I get back in SF from Comcast. After some negotiating with our office network adminstrator (port 5060?) GizmoVoIP and Truphone both confirm connections at both places.

    After the connection part there is really no comparison in services. Truphone works even when my bandwidth sucks. To far corners of the world it connects and I don't have any problems with just silence. You know where this is going. Nokia provides Gizmo as installed on the N80i. However, Truphone in my view has proven to be the much better service. It does have an advantage currently in calling to the US... (free through the end of March). Note not all my buddies have noted the same and I had my first bad call today Jim Courtney on Truphone.

    By contrast GizmoVoIP seems to have a hard time connecting my calls. If bandwidth is tight then nothing definitely happens. As I have money to burn on Gizmo I'd like to use it. I just can't connect any calls. However, they still charge me for some of these attempts. I have a suspicion that these two approaches don't use the same audio codecs. I'm guessing that Truphone's is much more efficient. Ultimately, that's going to be important when HotSpots are overloaded.

    Where else is Truphone better? It's much better in it's voice mail feature. It's now integrated into my Nokia speed-dial. works perfectly. Still there is an even more important aspect that seems simple enough. Truphone I think comes out of the UK. They understand how to dial internationally on a mobile. By contrast Gizmo doesn't. It's simple. I travel and most of my numbers are now entered and set-up to be +919899xxxxxx or +44208xxxxyyyy. Mobiles use the + to get to international. Gizmo wants you to use 00 or 011. By using + it doesn't matter if I specify internet or GSM call, the number works. All those + numbers need editing for me to call them from Gizmo.  This seems to contridict how mobiles work.

    Now having knocked one versus the other. Truphone should come in for a few whacks too. This learning also applies more broadly. Truphone... selling there services to mobiles with Wi-Fi should have a mobile enabled site. While I managed to top up my account it is painful. Give me quickly a I don't care about fancy graphics. If I'm out of money I want to be able to add it fast from my phone. Gizmo is a step ahead in this regard also providing a link to the Gizmo directory and thus all those free sip numbers. With Truphone I think this is automatic. Still until the whole office is on it...

    So how do these two services relate to the likes of Talkster, Jajah or Rebtel and why should I with a VoIP enabled mobile even be interested. First a little about my Talkster experience. Talkster is providing a very generous $5 with their testing at the moment. I tried a Talkster call to Indonesia and then followed with a Truphone call.  Again Truphone provided the better audio quality and service. (Note this was still using Truphone to call in to me)  Talkster allows you to choose whether you can call in and they will then call out for you. Or like Jajah they will call your phone and that of the party you wish to speak to... simply by clicking on a link.

    First challenge. I wanted to call into Talkster using my Internet connection. Afterall it's a free call to the US.. why pay for that leg. However the link click launches my GSM (not sure if I turn my phone to VoIP first) and thus I set it to call me back on my US VoIP number. So I set it to call me and the other party. We connected, and the quality was adequate. Still the bonus of Talkster is I can enter numbers easily in my Nokia Phone browser. That means I can use it over a GPRS connection when necessary to make a call although I doubt I'd use this often.

    In principle Jajah offers this too. Except their webpage provides buttons that simply can't initiate a call from my Nokia browser. Their mobile client doesn't work with the N80. Still, why do I need a mobile client? What I do need is a mobile friendly webpage.

    Both these services seem to point to a service I'd expect to get from Truphone. Although really it's only really attractive for making international calls. How would I use it? Perhaps to direct calls away from my cellphone to a local number; eg friends house, office etc while making an international call. Both connections then get landline rates. Still I find it hard to find this very compelling.

    Overall my curiosity with all this testing just leaves me feeling that the pieces are still sort of broken. I know what I want is integrated channels that make it easy to talk, message or email with my contacts. With VoIP puts a new perspective on Talk for my mobile the associated messaging, presence, address books etc are just missing my expectations.

    Gizmo has most of these pieces. It's on the Nokia. There are chat clients that run jabber etc. It has simple presence. Still my perception is of a cheap look we can do this demo rather than what was required. Gizmo could have done Skype for Mobile in execution with a SIP and Jabber platform. It still could. Truphone by contrast seems to have the technology more grounded. I'd like to see them connect it up to Gmail / jabber. I'd add more... 

    In the meantime I've been paying Skype for a SkypeIn line. That connection uses SIP. Skype could provide my VoIP in line without any problems. They have my SkypeOut too. They could even set my Presence to Talk/VM only if they still can't deliver a chat client.

    To conclude VoIP in the hand is worth more than VoIP on the desktop. I can kiss that SkypeIn line goodbye. If we thought the migration to desktop VoIP has been so-so. I'd predict that the shift to mobile it will be even faster. And yes I know there are hardly any phones out there that currently support it. One it is compelling. Two the investment required for these new phones is less than laptops etc. They are more personal, more about status, and go everywhere. 

    One day soon I may even write about why I'm not interested in an iPhone.

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    February 1, 2007

    Fring - Fringing Talking - Beyond Skype

    I've just been playing with Fring. I wrote a post some months ago Fringing Interesting. It was a quick glance at Andy's blog today that told me to take another look.

    Download and install was simple and easy to do. At first I couldn't get Fring to connect to my Skype Account or Google Talk. Their support department suggested that demand may have been a problem. Anyways tonight on my lousy home Indian broadband it connected. Initial call quality better than my recent calls with Truphone. And I've been swearing by Truphone. See my previous post. In a day in this world everything can change.

    Possible Impact: (based on six hours of experience)
    Anyone that has a Skype centric-life and has a N80 or appropriate Nokia, can connect with WiFi and manage the interruptions or the beeps will adopt this for their general Skype messaging around the home and office. I will turn Skype on my desktop off for the rest of the week and see how it goes. (This means that Skype has really blown it re mobile) Just obsoleted all those WiFi phones that are coming out. Why waste the $150 or so....

    These elements are standouts.

    The Mobile Integration: Nokia makes it hard to keep apps running in the background. Almost all other apps die as soon as you close them. Unless Nokia interrupts your browsing with the call manager you usually find yourself logging back in. Fring is best in class from what I've seen. You can disable the automatic startup (which I have although I'm not sure this will be necessary). Nothing like turning your phone on and knowing (what could quickly become) your favorite app is again up and running.

    A simple hide brings you back to Nokia. Hold down the menu key and a the shortcuts appear and you are back straight into Fring. Very nice. For those that have messed with sorting out UI and navigation for an app that needs to run continuously in the background this is about the best you can currently do. Nokia doesn't provide a windows task bar type facility on their NSeries.

    Chat. I constantly bleep about mobile chat and how everything from the lastest Nimbuzz to a recent test of Talkonit and other mobile chat programs all take you to a separate screen for text entry. The exception was Agile Messenger. Frings clearly taken a good look at the best in class.

    This needs work:

    Whose Calling:
    Name doesn't show when I get an inbound call! What no caller ID!? Hard to believe. This is a huge potential problem. For it includes calls on my SkypeIn number etc. One of the things about Skype is it is clear who is calling. Maybe I am missing something. Still I don't think so.

    What Channel?: I don't get the Fring graphics next to the names. Haven't read the directions so don't understand whether these are google accounts at times or Skype Accounts. As I have to decide which is the preferred channel you are making it difficult for me. I often have two names that look almost the same. Sent two messages to gmail accounts when I thought they were Skype accounts etc.

    Characters: I have a few buddies whose Skype names don't use English characters. I have no idea who these people are in Fring. Similarly you can't currently rename them.

    I've not imported my Nokia address book into Fring yet. It has 1400 records. I'm going to have to set up a smaller list to test that feature. Still the find buddy by search works easily. I don't seem to have all my Skype buddies yet in the list. Guess they will get there.

    What's the business model? See the Register. Not sure what to believe yet myself.

    The interconnects are pretty interesting. Using SkypeOut may be a detriment to Fring with the latest changes in Skype rates and their addition of a calling fee.

    Skype?: Skype has simply lost the high innovative ground. It's worth a separate post. Fring will enable something that Agile Messenger never managed. It's set up well enough already so you can hang out at hotspots and manage your buddylist and simpy chat. If I look at my kids and their SMS usage it would all transfer to chat if they could. WiFi enabled phones like the N80 will take time to proliferate. Still I'm now sorry that I bought my daughter an N73 and not an N80. Fring type programs may even be attractive to blackberry users. 

    Why didn't Skype launch a Symbian mobile app? It's beyond me and yet I have a theory. I'm writing about that next. It may also answer the why Skype is going to miss this party.

    Has Nokia Crushed Skype's Mobile Ambitions?

    Time to pose a fun theory tonight (when I finally seem to have a blogging mood back) and ask if Nokia has had a subtle hand in crushing Skype's mobile ambitions?

    For a few months now my Wi-Fi mobility with the N80 has taken a step into VoIP land. Even  before Fring I was beginning to ask myself... Why is it that Skype is not on Symbian?  There were demos almost a year ago. Fring clearly proves that it's possible and works. So what's the deal?

    Now put yourself in Nokia's shoes.
    They are launching the most advanced Wi-Fi phones on the planet. The N-Series. In fact even Om says just yesterday or the day before that they have overshot the mark. I think not but that's another post.

    Nokia wants these phones to have real impact in the business market. SIP is business. They also know it is going to take some of these global travellers just like me to say... whoa... this hotspot / WiFi thing is better than Skype. No more headset, back to a handset. It feels good. Voice quality ok.. almost as good. Still as we fall back to phones and handsets because the cost now lets us, it feels good and natural. Note I've made about 3 SkypeOut calls in the six weeks. I've made many many calls by comparison on Truphone and GizmoVoip.

    SIP to Win Mobile:
    Oh... what did I say. I've made many calls on SIP. Ouch! It works! Ouch! It never worked as well as Skype on my desktop and I have so many buddies now on Skype... you can't convert me. Still boy oh boy I have SIP now all over my mobile. As of tonight it is full time active with GSM via Hutch, GizmoVoip and Truphone and Fring which means Skype and Gtalk. Gosh... the only buddies I may be missing are long lost on Yahoo or MSN. Doesn't really matter.

    Open vs Closed:
    Isn't SIP open? Isn't Skype closed? Aren't SIP to SIP calls generally free. It is in the SIPphone world. What do mobile users really want to do? Talk! What matters little to Nokia? The cost per minute. So... guess the users will chose. Who provides the best or cheapest SIP plan. Oh doesn't that create choice and competition. Plus isn't Symbian open (although the Nokia call manager is pretty structured - please open it up Nokia!)

    SIP not Skype:
    So you keep egging Skype along, as they are the gorilla in the park.. you feed them stuff that says don't need to be too early on this one and continue not only testing but launch with GizmoVoIP. Probaby help out the Frings and Truphones etc. Why. Nokia benefits from an open platform and communication market. Launching their Wi-Fi phones too soon with Skype would destroy that potential.

    Maybe Skype knows and has buried their plans and gone back to aping the PSTN. Not sure. Still in Nokia shoes I'd keep it tough for Skype now as long as I can.  Every new purchaser of a Wi-Fi phone will soon know the benefits and think SIP or just VoIP.


    Did anyone say that VoIP on the mobile wouldn't be disruptive? You have got to be kidding. Accounts are as simple as a new chat account and the best services just let you use your gmail account. It's validated. Once you add your mobile and they send you the SMS so's your mobile number.

    All of this is creating a new mobile operating environment. It will be as convoluted as the desktop with as many different services. Still SIP and Jabber eliminate many of those problems. So is Nokia big enough and the Mobile market fast enough to shift the whole VoIP world off Skype?

    Okay have probably said the obvious now over and over. Nokia break out the Sippagne and i suggest putting free hotspots in every store you have in India in the next six months. Readers! They have a lot of stores in India and probably sold 5 million phones here last month. Do this throughout Asia and do it quick.

    What Next?

    Then what.... Nokia buys Gizmo and SIPphone and launchs Nokia Stores in the US and becomes their own MVNO. I change my phone to packet centric from Cellular. Prepaid minute plans here we come.

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    May 7, 2007

    Lust to Love in 24 hours

    I was asked yesterday how I would answer the question "What's your most cherished possession?" My friend was thinking a painting, a classic car, or some keepsake. I answered immediately; my mobile phone and I got shock - horror. Then my answer may have been influenced by a brand new Nokia N95 waiting for me on Friday; the very phone I have  been lusting after ever since I first saw the specs, (soon after I bought an N80 last June)

    From Lust:
    Where did the lust come from? I'm not quite sure. It certainly was a view of a dual slider, and larger screen. I also wanted to try the latest geekery in GPS devices. Most importantly I wanted the camera. Five Mega pixels and auto focus built in. In the last two years I've used an N70 not bad for photos but the n90 was 2mpx and auto focus. That was the best. The N80 never really achieved the clarity despite its 3mpx. And I knew it. My daughters N73 with 3mpx and autofocus just does a much better job. So lust traces to high expectations for the camera.

    My next phone had to have everything the N80 had and more. I no longer recommend new cellphones to anyone without Wi-Fi. Plus with T-Mobiles new VoIP plan (coming in June) this feature becomes even more compelling. It maybe the current free rates - I just can't do without my Truphone account. Plus there is something telling when all my family calls (where no notes or sharing are required) go via the handset rather than a Skype headset. I simply like the freedom.

    Back to Lust - What I learned from my N80
    The N80 has been my constant travel companion. It's my "always on" connection with unlimited GPRS and WiFi in the home and office. I run the Nokia mail programs, Gmail Mobile, Google Maps, AgileMessenger, Truphone, GizmoVoIP and Nokia Podcasting. While also trying out Fring, Nimbuzz, Shozu I won't be quite so quick to install these on the N95.

    Where the N80 fell down was on the screen size. It is a magnificent screen in detail, the type size is a little too small for web browsing (and my bi-focal eyesight). It also constantly got the thumbs down from others that picked it up for "thickness" and "weight". I'd have to agree, I too wished it was more like the N73, which is so light, bigger screen and packs so much. I always did like the N80 key pad. It was great for texting.

    I never used it much for music. Putting music on it was more for ring tones and alarms. I did experiment with movies but found the player not advanced enough to skip commercials for programs transferred from myTIVO. Memory also slowed me down. I only ever got to a 1gb memory card. Was plenty for daily use but limited it competing versus my Video iPod.

    Love and the N95:

    It dropped into my hand slimmer and much much lighter than the N80.Despite that it doesn't feel more flimsy or cheaper. It is actually more tactile in the hand. The slider a nicer pop movement. While a little broader the bigger screen makes everything so much easier to read. While the N80 locks on close the N95 lock and unlock features are just better thought out. They become an easy motion. There has been a huge amount of design thought put into the N95. It will stand on its end and speakers in each side!

    Did I mention my thumbs. The keys on the N95 have a little more definition than the N80. I find it easier to text from. I'm also thrilled that it has a standard USB style plug. I can ditch that nokia cable now and just use my harddrive cable backup. Great! Plus we finally have a proper socket not only for earphone but also TV/Video out. Something I'll have to try.

    Then we have that dual sliding feature. That means web browsing videos and gaming can have a horizontal wide screen rather than vertical. and rotating content become pretty easy. As I use it more this will become more important. I've already found You Tube videos via the new Podcasing App. First appearance make it pretty slick.

    Not enough reason. Well I now know exactly how many yards it is to the local bars and restaurants (there is no reason not to walk). The GPS features will have to wait. I think I will just buy the plan so I can use it in the car to provide directions. Still even without the driving element it is pretty effective at providing a directory of local sites.,

    Stepping up to the N95 from an N80 is pretty straight forward. Use the Nokia transfer function set both phones to bluetooth and soon you are synchonized. I really wish I wasn't abandoning "old" mobiles so quickly; it is part of the pace of change. However at least in India there is a ready resale market which makes it all easier. I added in my favorite programs. Truphone, AgileMessenger, Gmail, and Gmap (although I'm not sure I am going to need this one).

    So is it really Love?
    I'm not sure yet. It is definitely a  cherished possession and as an all in one type of mobile one I can't really live without. Where are the problems?

    Number One:
    Battery Life. With WiFi connection at home via Truphone I'm getting just over half a day and I've turned off UMTS seeking. I know I already want a double sized battery and popped back plate for this phone. I won't be alone. If you are a talker and want all the WiFi be prepared to charge frequently.

    Number Two: Lack of storage capacity. I stuck a 2gb microSD in it. That's the largest currently. I'd like that number to be 10 or 20 times that. Then I'm pretty sure my iPod would be history. The lack of memory does seem a little short sighted to me. Still with WiFi and products like ORB I may find I really don't need it as I can just stream it. I can see I have some testing to do.

    Minor... :
    When you synch phones and get a new one it would be so nice if the predictive text dictionary would be transferred. Each new phone needs training in this regard and I think this is true when you do a software update too. I've also never figured out how to edit out words that get into your dictionary that keep appearing and that you don't want.

    Love Tests to come
    Taking pictures and videos - I'm not sure it if exist but I want a N95 tripod attachment that fits in the headphone socket. Then finally I'll have a phone with a self-timer that is really userful.

    Playing with the GPS. Is it true I can no longer get lost and always find my way? 

    I should note. The phone was provided by Andy Abramson courtesy of the Nokia Blogger program for me to try out. I'm definitely a Nokia fan. I bought an N80 as soon as they were available and I've never used a Treo or Blackberry although I recently tested a Nokia E61 (don't like the keyboard!) and I think I have tried living with almost all the N-Series Phones. Example bought an N73 for my daughter who still gets envious comments from her friends six months later.

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    May 8, 2007

    N95 - Battery Life

    I wrote my post last night on the N95 before checking up what others say. A link by Aaron today and my general desire to get back blogging requires some discipline and watching on my part. So I learn that Ken wasn't all that impressed (another noting a battery-life). Phoneboy provides some suggestions for picking up maps and oh no slams the battery too. I also re-checked out whatAlec "> Alec had to say. I think he is an enamored with it as I am (although I bet he has gone back to his Blackberry). Battery life again raises it ugly head.

    This is a list of top Nokia N95 Tips. I'd add use your ShureHeadphones with it. I have a set of I3C's which plug in neatly and they make all the difference. They may not be noise canceling but the foam plugs mean I don't hear anything much on planes, and on or off they they require a lot less volume than the standard headphones which enable you to split the Nokia mic and go hard wired. I tossed all the wires back in the box. It's bluetooth or decent earphones for music..

    I think I can live with the batterylife. It's the WiFi and constant Truphone connection in the home that is just eating the battery. Today after an hour on Truphone the battery charged over night was dead by lunchtime. A bigger battery should be a rush upgrade at Nokia. Double the size of it. I don't mind the extra weight. Provide a new back plate with it. Urgent!

    Ken mentioned loading Gizmo onto it. I went back to GizmoVoip and it wasn't obvious to me how to. I did use Gizmo on occasion on the N80. I've just learned with experience that the Truphone codec is more efficient in low bandwidth environment and thus more reliable. I've also become aware of Wifimobile although the charging structure wasn't that clear to me. I already have enough free VoIP lines that another isn't that attractive and they also offer SIP to SIP for free. If there is a rate plan it is buried somewhere on their site.

    I added Jaiku onto the N95. I like it more that Twitter for potential. I will write more about that separately. I'm also going to add Fring again. There is at least another week of playing with it.

    Now to just get to the N800 on my desk which to me looks like the best alarm clock and desk calendar ever. More seriously I've not yet had the time to really try it out. It's intriguing although I'm not sure I need it yet. I have some ideas what I want it to do; yet that can wait for another post.

    The official N95 Blog is here.....

    Powered by ScribeFire.

    May 31, 2007

    Jajah - Conversation Broker - Strategy?

    Jajah recently had an infusion of $20million from Deutsche Telekom. That's a big deal. It may also prove interesting for Jangl, Jaxtr and Grand Central. However what I'm reading in the press doesn't quite gel with my sense of where this is going or what the prize is. Example see this Information Week article or this The Browser overview. Each of these state that Jajah isn't out to compete with the telecoms etc. They also reference Trevor Healy “If you’re at your office, your laptop may ring, but when you’re in your car, your mobile should ring, and when your home, your PSTN (public switched telephone network) phone will ring.” I'd agree and he'd extend this to include presence. However, I don't think this represents why DT bought in. DT also got a cheap price if Jajah's user base is in the millions or regular users, although the infusion suggests their burn rate and margins are tighter than reported.

    What is Jajah? Jajah is a conversation broker. It brokers conversations between two or more channels. Jajah smartly chose to use VoIP rates to connect traditional PSTN handsets from a simple web app. Thereby collecting prepaid calling cash and millions of users.

    Why DT? The real prize in Jajah and similar brokers is all the other communications that can be routed. Jajah has voice and email (they know it if you opened an account) and has yet to add chat and SMS. From a DT perspective this "switch" / "broker" is outside their network. This switch could also connect every number etc on earth. It just needs critical mass. When Jajah can connect with Gtalk or Gizmo or connect a PSTN caller with a Yahoo number they have something pretty special. Add in other ways we communicate and you have an all in one communications solution.

    The Challenges for Jajah
    Identity: Right now my identity is the PSTN number you are trying to call. However as a Jajah user there is no reason you shouldn't just ask to connect with Jajah Stuart. The problem to be overcome is providing me with an identity that I want to use that represents all my communications. Jajah Stuart may be unique to me; the problem is there are many Stuart's out there. Identities also reveal different things about each of us. So Jajah looks well poised to add the infrastructure and make us all agnostic about the channels we use to connect with each other.

    Jajah Users knows little about presence. In fact their model currently PSTN to PSTN doesn't involve devices or calls where even simple presence indicators are involved. Perhaps that's why I like the Iotum link to Jajah? As Alec knows routing calls without presence information to different devices can quickly result in disaster. However, add a change of routing function via SMS or Web interface and all of a sudden the value for a Jajah identity goes up exponentially. What's nice about this strategy is the SIP to SIP etc calls can all be free. It will also take them into the desktop. Inferring a little more ---- they already have this client built. It may need an update as it predates the current web strategy. WiFi mobile handsets make this even more attractive.

    Competitors: Jajah has a jumpstart because their model for capturing paying users is almost as good as Skype's was. However, it does appear to come with a cost of infrastructure. Jajah mobile remains a little simple but works. Integrate Jajah mobile with Jaiku and additional interesting propositions emerge. In fact between registered Jajah users (I bet the calls are much higher to non registered users) there is no need to even share the "connection" identifiers. As Jajah connects more sophisticated VoIP devices they can pass their own information on who's calling. Now Jaxtr has already proven this is possible (they recently extended it to email). Jangl appears to have a less efficient model for building numbers (just guessing).

    There are also a number of mobile upstarts. Fring, Nimbuzz etc that are enabling users to connect and share presence. They are connecting so many different communication channels on the mobile that they are headed to being the Trillians with Voice for the mobile world. The downside is lack of handsets and users that get it. Jajah's mobile strategy for now is low cost and almost zero development while working on any web activated handset. TalkNow has integrated it with a mobile directory on the Blackberry. In the end this is more attractive in some countries than others depending on the users mobile plan.

    Could Skype still upset Jajah plans? Technically yes. They could move quickly into this market (almost surprised they haven't). They are ahead on "handles" and "profiles" and would solve their mobile issue in a new way. They have rudimentary presence. It would undercut the Jajah model on price for many calls while enabling new Skype users without Skype apps.

    Trust:We know we already have a "telecom" in the middle when we make a traditional call. There are also plenty of govt regulations that apply to telecoms. That's where I get a little more worried about how "security" is engineered in. Conversation Brokers connect both ends of the call. FreeConferencing brokers conference calls for us. They provide recording capabilities too. Whether it is Jajah in middle or someone else you want to make real sure that you "trust" the relationship. As these brokers become more capable of managing more than just PSTN channels the data they will have could be much much more. Until now most of us never trusted our Telecom with our email address. Our Email account POP is usually separate from providers for IM and mobile. We've had some comfort while they are separate. However they are converging and becoming more complex. In the end I'm not sure I want to support this potential new "man in the middle". While I like the idea that one point of contact could broker all my communications I really want it to be under my control.

    In the end small change for a Telcom. No surprise to me that it is European rather than American.

    June 4, 2007

    iPhone Ads - June 29

    Given yesterdays comments on the N95 vs iPhone I can only say watch the ads via the link below! I won't go and camp out at the Apple store on June 29th although many will. I will go to an Apple store and play with the iphone. That is the single biggest threat Moto, Samsung, Nokia have in this country. I'd never dream of going to an AT&T store, T-Mobile or Verizon store to play with the future of mobile phones.

    Apple - iPhone - TV Ads

    BTW in a country like India - Nokia has plenty of their own stores and they increasingly mimic some Apple store elements. There I expect to find the latest in mobile technology.

    Despite the obvious iphone appeal I'm still not certain that it's enough. I'd also like to know if the frame rate was speeded up in these ads. The vertical to horizontal screen change appears very quick. I've learnt to do it on the N95 with the slider still the Apple solution is definitely more elegant in this regard.

    September 25, 2007

    India Online - in the palm of your hand.

    What's your strategy for India? Would you rethink it if you thought that in less than 3 years 250 million could be online, with an email account, networking on Orkut and responding to localized ads? This is not completely far fetched. Even if the number is only half that, it's quite possible if we look at the mobile as the computer in the palm of your hand.

    When I first went to India 18 months ago it was still unusual to see an auto-rickshaw driver with a cellphone. This trip every driver / cabbie that drove me around had a phone. The houseboat captain had a phone etc. Today even in the smaller villages you can recharge your prepaid mobile. I've experienced Indian "broadband" (256kbps if you are lucky) in the home and noted that it is hard to buy routers and Wi-Fi accessories from the local electronics store. Concurrently,VoIP lines are going into homes; most of the infrastructure seems to be creaking from the pace of growth; customer service is often lousy and billing may be a mess. Phones will always come before PC's.

    I know the big players in mobile (eg Vodaphone and Nokia) already understand why India is "THE" market they must win in. Many other tech players understand this. Eg Orkut and Google, probably HP etc. I also believe many companies don't or many not be managing it well. Eg Yahoo, Dell, Motorola and many more.

    I keep returning to India because I believe successful global companies and startups must all have an India strategy and you won't understand it from 12000 miles away. The impact of mobile growth is only one of the reasons and the focus of this post. The "numbers" simply dwarf other markets (other than China). As these new users come on line they will tip product development, reshape the web and teach us new ways to interact. Real innovations in mobile are likely to come out of India.

    The rough numbers:

    Internet: Approx: 40 million online of which 25 million are active (weekly). Of that 10 to 12 million are on Orkut and most probably have a Gmail account. Note in India there is only 40 million landlines. Internet access is dialup or a choice of DSL and Cable. Speeds remain slow. A Reliance wireless network connection remains a viable or only option for some.

    Mobile. The number ranges from about 180m to 240m. The article below uses 185m of which 39.46m are rural. Thus approx 20% of the user base in India is now rural. Penetration in major cities is approaching 50% while rural penetration ranges from 3% to just over 20%. Of the next 250 million users that go mobile at least 100m will be rural!

    Growth: Mobile dwarfs Internet / PC market. In two to three years India will have doubled the current number of users. I have a suspicion that many Internet users are "Users at work"; Orkutting as soon as they arrive at the office. They may not have a connection at home. Internet in the home is likely to remain disappointing.

    Other leading indicators that are important!

    Airtel recently announced and has been promoting Prepaid for Life. This means you buy a prepaid SIM 495rp and the number never expires (requires 200rp spend every 180 days). It's clever as it provides phones for those that can't even afford to make calls.

    Vodaphone which bought Hutch back in Feb 2007 has recently changed the name and is has announced new links to Orkut. Concurrently Google is offering an Adsense like program for Mobile. See this article for Google details. Nokia is also active in this space (see enpocket).


    What we really do today with computers can be done on mobile. email, directories, networking, search, maps etc. Enable all these mobile phones with email accounts / Orkut accounts and you are looking at 100+ million users in no time flat. Given the price differential for mobile advertising rates and it is easy to see how Google can potentially arrange a revenue split with carriers. It's not too far fetched to see limited mobile data connections being "free" as a result.

    Broadband to the home in India will remain disappointing. It will lag behind mobile growth. Already programs like Reliance NetConnet (USB to PC or PCCard) are popular 3G programs and the coverage is reaching deep into rural areas. The speed can be variable and is often not much better than a dialup connection. I am fairly sure GPRS can not scale to the data requirements of hundreds of millions going online. Thus only the infrastructure and its installation is likely to stall or frustrate the growth of online mobile web users.

    It needs to be free: They aren't going to pay for it as they don't understand the value. They want email but it must be free etc. They will happily view an ad while an email is downloaded. Ads can be ajaxed down earlier and retained in the background.

    Big Education Job: Only a combined effort by Mobile operators, perhaps Google and businesses can make this happen. It's not impossible. Just a few years ago almost no one had a cellphone in India. Most people in India still don't really have an address (street address). Given the speed of adoption of the mobile - they will want these!

    Whether you are a marketer, run commerce, trade, provide services etc. it is time to prepare your strategy for India. The numbers are just too huge. The companies that learn how to reach these new communicators and create the channels for conversation will create powerful platforms for growth. The battle will move to the handset and will never be for the desktop in India.

    About Mobility

    This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in the Mobility category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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