Archives for February 2004
February 28, 2004
Six months ago, an application that allows cell phones to morph into walkie-talkies was heralded as the next big thing in wireless telephony. Suddenly the blue-collar feature was hip and everyone had to have it--never mind that Nextel Communications phones had been equipped with the technology for more than a decade. Read on for Forbes special report outlining the history, the reason for PTT's success and the players.
One company mentioned in the article caught my eye: "Calif.-based Kodiak Networks. A startup, with contracts with European operator Orange and U.S. Alltel, offers interesting additions to the traditional push-to-talk services, including the availability of call waiting during an instant call, the scheduled delivery of voice mail, and the capacity to transform an instant call into a regular call at the push of a button.
Their technology is compatible with both U.S. standards CDMA and GSM and the startup makes the technology available free to handset makers, so a wider array of products should soon be available".
Some interesting facts and figures from Nokia chief executive Jorma Ollila at 3GSM in Cannes, the industry's annual summit, reported by The FT:
- There were 1.4bn users of mobile phones at the year-end, 72 per cent of them using the GSM system and 13 per cent on CDMA, whose powerbase is in the US.
- China is the largest market and India and China are expected to account for 25 per cent of the world's subscribers by 2008.
- Nokia's 6600 camera phone had become the world's best selling "smartphone" with 2m units sold since its debut in October.
- Almost four out of every 10 phones sold worldwide bears the Nokia brand but the market leader is facing challenges from many other manufacturers and from software giant Microsoft in the fast-growing smartphone category.
Nextel Communications Inc. and Motorola Inc., faced with a government investigation into the push-to-talk wireless phone service they dominate, hired antitrust lawyers, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"The investigation could result in breaking up their market dominance," said Martin Zohn, an attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP in Los Angeles. "Any company in America that received this request would hire strong counsel."
"We will not take part in the funeral for freedom."
A cell-phone text message circulated in Iran to protest against a clampdown on reformists in last weeks of parliamentary elections. Posted in Newsweek via everyone's favorite blogger, Joi Ito.
February 27, 2004
A couple of days ago, E-Media Tidbits posted an enteresting story on a report in the St. Petersburg Times, claiming that news delivered via SMS in Russia could make the wireless channel "rival" the Internet.
"Soon it will be possible to receive entire electronic newspapers by mobile phone and those interested in politics will be able to follow St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly sessions and criticize the work of deputies by SMS".
Sonim and Sony Ericsson are to collaborate to integrate Push-to-Talk capability in SonyEricsson phones, based on the Push to talk over Cellular (PoC) standard, ensuring the interoperability required to create substantial subscriber adoption. according to Cellular News.
Empower Interactive have published a study they have conducted with 60 operators and 250 users and claim that a "Growing tide of mobile SPAM threatens to engulf mobile community if left unchecked", according to Mike Grenville for 160characters.org.
"The Empower study found that 65% of mobile owners already receive up to five SPAM messages per week, But is the problem really as big as it is being made out to be?
However another study by Silicon.com in June 2003 found that while 69 per cent of respondents have received spam on their mobile phone, the volumes are not high.
A 160 Characters straw poll (still in progress) indicates that the amount of spam is well below these figures, 46% of respondents either not having ever received any SMS spam or none within the last month".
UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix had his mobile phone tapped whenever he was in Iraq, with the US and UK sharing any information, reports Teletext.com.
"A source at the Australian intelligence agency was quoted in a broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
It is claimed that Mr Blix's phone conversations were recorded in the run-up to the war and transcripts given to Australia's allies."
Michigan schools are looking into policies on student cell phones and other electronic devices because of parents' concerns and because the state is lifting a long-standing ban, reports the Lansing State Journal.
"The state is removing its restrictions against cell phones and pagers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, essentially clearing the way for districts to set their own rules.
While there are benefits to students having cell phones such as in cases of emergencies, there are also drawbacks that range from the annoying to the serious.
Camera phones could violate the privacy of other students. Text messagers could be used to cheat on tests. And ringing cell phones cause distractions not only in class, but even when they are tucked away in lockers".
In February 2003, London initiated a new plan to ease traffic congestion by taxing motorists who drive into the city every day. (cf London traffic tax).
Payments are made through call centers, online, at retail outlets, as well as by SMS.
One year later, Capita - the company behind London's congestion charging scheme- revealed that there had been a 30% reduction in the number of vehicles coming in to Britain's capital city in the first year and that 170,000 people have now signed up to paying by SMSwith only 12% using call centres, according to The Guardian.
South Korea's third-largest credit card issuer, KEB Credit Service Co, sacked a quarter of its workforce (161 employees) via text messages on Friday, after negotiations with striking unionised workers broke down, according to an article in Forbes.
The first report of an employee being sacked by SMS I ever read about occured in England, in February 2001, when an office adminstrator, Zoe Halls, received an SMS from her boss, stating: "We don't need you in at work tomorrow, I'll phone you AM to explain - John".
- Last year, 2'500 insurance staffers of UK insurance company The Accident Group were sacked by SMS. (cf Thousands are sacked - by text )
- Also last year, an Australian traffic controller was fired. The former employee took his former employer to court - not for offences against the language, but over the procedural fairness and validity of his dismissal. (cf Sacked by SMS)
Mobile phones have long been a fashion item, but if the catwalk at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes is anything to go by, you'll soon be able to wear the phones - with little else besides. Or be able to customise your clothing by simply sending a text message, according to The Guardian via Smart Mobs.
"[...] Among the fashionable items on the catwalk was a jacket that can change according to your mood. Feeling psychedelic? Just send a text to transmit a psychedelic image to the display panel on the jacket."
February 26, 2004
Cell phones could soon become an unlikely teachers' ally thanks to an Edinburgh art tutor's brainwave, reports the scotsman.com.
A new system using the same technology that allows people to download ringtones or get the latest football scores on their mobile, will allows pupils to do their homework using their Nokias and Ericssons.
Students will be able to receive information on particular subjects on their phones - helping them to get their studies done while they sit on the bus or walk down Princes Street on a Saturday afternoon.
"Pupils visiting, for example, the Duke of Wellington monument in Princes Street, or Greyfriar's Bobby, as part of their homework, will be able to text a number and download information on the subject. All the facts will be stored on a database at the school".
With little or not spam-sensibility, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning on launching its campaign by sending its promotional material by e-mail and text messaging.
India has no rules to regulate spam. Taking advantage of the laxity in laws, the BJP will carry on the campaign over two months, according to MidDay.
Some interesting facts and figures from infoSyncworld on i mode-users outside of Japan:
- i-mode users outside Japan exceeded two million at the end of January 2004 and continue to grow rapidly.
- Services are currently available through seven i-mode operators in Belgium, Germany, Taiwan, Holland, Spain and Italy.
- Greece is scheduled to get i-mode prior to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Including Japan, more than 42 million users are now using i-mode services globally.
- Currently more than 1000 content providers outside Japan delivers localized content portfolios in eight languages, including content providers such as Disney and CNN.
- To date, i-mode operators outside Japan deliver services using ten handsets from four handset vendors: NEC, Mitsubishi, Vitelcom, and Toshiba. Other handset vendors, such as Samsung, Siemens, Sagem and Panasonic are scheduled to release new i-mode handsets in Europe and Asia during 2004.
Now that 3G mobile phones and mobile multimedia businesses are maturing in the mainstream here in Japan, eyes turn to the next stage of development: "wallet phones", according to eurotechnology.com.
From 2004 DoCoMo will introduce wallet phones combining JAVA applets with secure multi-application smartcards.
Electronic cash, access keys, IDs, tickets, reservations, club memberships, credit cards etc are loaded as secure applications into smartcards which are integrated into DoCoMo's mobile phones.
Click here for details and analysis.
February 25, 2004
Vodafone is looking to drum up extra revenues by getting business users to text more, according to The Register.
"Texting is the next "big thing" for business people. To prove its point, it's laid its hands on some research which shows that seven in ten employees never send work-related texts.
Nine out of ten consumers are concerned about the security of their mobile device, according to a new study from security Network Associates, reports Webuser.
"The research, carried out in Japan, also found that 82 per cent of consumers would like the ability to block unwanted calls and two-thirds wanted to filter unwanted data from reaching their mobile phones".
February 24, 2004
Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday that Openwave Systems Inc., a maker of software for cell phones, would begin offering a feature allowing mobile phone users to access Hotmail and MSN Messenger while on the go, according to Yahoo News.
The new software platform, called Openwave Phone Suite V7 Platform, will be offered beginning in March.
Mobile community dodgeball.com, has launched three location-based apps in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, and Philly:
dodgeball guide - uses a database of user-created reviews to look up addresses and cross-streets around town, to restaurants or bars, or find the closest pool table or Ms. Pac Man machine.
dodgeball circles - allow you to use SMS to broadcast your location to your friends.
dodgeball scout - empower users with the ability to push messages to people who are within 10 blocks of them.
February 13, 2004
The London Ambulance Service has become the first in the UK to use new technology to pinpoint the location of mobile phone callers, reports the BBC.
"The new technology enables operators at the service's control room to see where the mobile phone user is calling from.
"When you make a 999 call you are connected to a BT operator," says Quentin Armitage, deputy director of technology at the London Ambulance Service. At the same time, the mobile phone operator provides information on the cell that you are in or what mast you are connected to to a BT database".
"When that call is passed through to us we are then able to look up that information in the BT database and we can display the area of coverage, the circle on a map for our call centre so they can what area the caller is in."
Xeni Jardin, as a new contributor to TheFeature.com, writes about a Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study on Americans' attitudes towards cell phones which reveals that "30% of the respondents cited the mobile phone as the most-despised yet essential invention, edging out old stand-bys like the alarm clock (25%) and television (23%)".
"The irony is that technologically instilling mobile phones with social intelligence may be easier than teaching people manners. To that end, Schmandt and his colleagues are developing software agents that minimize the inappropriate behavior of mobile phones. Beyond just combating rudeness though, Schmandt's innovations would also be a godsend to those who want to be both accessible and polite.
One of the research group's approaches is to enable mobile phones to ask each other what the best behavior may be for a given situation. That way, even if you forget to switch off your ringer when you sit down in a theater, your phone would wirelessly query the settings of the other handsets in the vicinity.
For instance, you could program your phone to be on the lookout for your supervisor's phone. Then, if you're chatting with the boss and someone happens to dial your number, the call would automatically be routed to voicemail."
The Wall Street Journal has rounded up some services offering SMS reports on snow conditions for avid skiiers.
Text messages advising mobile skiers of "six inches at Vail" can be obtained by signing up with the likes of Rubbersnow.com, Rubbersurf.com or Snowfone.com.
However, caveat emptor, "to whatever you pay (or don't) for contents, cell providers may add message fees. For example, Nextel charges 10 cents per received message and Verizon two cents. Sprint charges $15 a month for unlimited messaging, and AT&T charges nothing at all".
"Zi, whose technology lies at the heart of more than 70 million mobile phones around the world, will be unveiling the world's first dual language text entry capability and other predictive text breakthroughs at this month's 3GSM World Congress. It will also have on hand the first eZiTap-enabled physical handsets for demonstration, a new text input system from Zi".
Dual Language allows the user to compose a message in a combination of two languages using simultaneous text entry and prediction. cf Company press release.
I've temporarily removed the comment section on textually.org due to an unbearable amount of spam and the misdirection of SMS votes from the Lebanese version of "American Idol", called Star Academy.
The thousands of misdirected votes in Arabic that landed in month-old posts in textually was treated - you can imagine - wtih great indiference by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation whom I spoke with on several occasions and who never got back to me.
Which brings to mind, if anyone cares, that the voting for "Star Academy" in Lebanon is obviously askew and the public is being mislead.
And more importantly could this sort of thing happen with electoral voting? How reliable is e-voting?
February 12, 2004
Adventure Weather will be distributing free SMS weather reports for all on the mountains this coming Everest and Himalayan season, according to Mounteverest.net.
"The forecasts are made by professional mets offices, analyzed by climbers and then e-mailed to BC camps, and SMS'd in shorter versions straight to climbers sat phones in high camps.
Last year the forecasts were posted at the South Side Everest Base Camp Internet Café. All of this is done free of charge to all the climbers on Everest and the Himalayan peaks – the only requirement we have is that those with email access share the reports with those smaller teams who don't, and mail in feedback afterwards for improved services the next year. Again this year will be North and South Side specific forecasts, including surrounding 8000+ mountains".
By this Friday, all offers for AT &T Wireless must be made. There have been a ton of reports, but to really get down to what's what, check out MobileTracker who has compiled the best from the last few weeks to get you up to speed.
People are far more likely to lie when talking on the phone than when sending an email, researchers have found, according to This is London.
Though this is not specific to cell phones, a phone is a phone and a lie is a lie. "The results have shocked psychologists, who expected emails to be among the biggest source of untruths".
"Jeff Hancock, of Cornell University, studied the diaries of 30 students who were asked to log all their communication for a week, including when they told lies. Only 14 per cent of emails included lies, while 21 per cent of instant messages and 27 per cent of face-to-face communications were dishonest. However, a huge 37 per cent of phone calls included lies.
"The first carriers to roll the news alert service in the United States are AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile with others such as Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel, Alltel following soon after.
“These alerts help mobile consumers stay current with developments in the biggest news stories of the day, from the war on terrorism to the campaign trail to the Martha Stewart trial,” said Bernard Gershon, Senior Vice President/General Manager, ABC News Digital.