Wednesday, August 17, 2005

[MBP] Mobile Pipeline - 08.17.2005 - Can Linux Save The Palm OS?

Mobile Pipeline Newsletter
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Convergence and Divergence At The Same Time
  • Top Mobile News
        - Windows Mobile Treo Gets Premature Support
        - U.S. Ready For Marketing Via Text Messages: Study
        - Mobile Users Are Less Mobile
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Industry Overview: Can Linux Save The Palm OS?
        - Review: Handset Tunes In Analog TV
        - Contest: The Great Tech Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest Winners
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Wi-Fi Hotspots Or 3G?
  • Get More Out Of Mobile Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Convergence and Divergence At The Same Time

    Device convergence means that we can check e-mail and make voice calls from a single device. That makes sense, but we're headed in the opposite direction when it comes to mobile access methods.

    That's the clear indication of the initial results of the current Mobile Pipeline Voting Booth survey, which asks whether you'd choose 3G or Wi-Fi hotspots in a head-to-head match-up. So far, hotspots are well ahead, but an even more interesting issue is emerging. Please take a moment to vote -- the survey will continue for another week.

    The survey's emerging story is respondents' strong preference for using only one type of mobile connectivity. So far only 16 percent say they'd use both 3G and Wi-Fi hotspots. My guess is that this is because of both cost considerations and the fact that both types of access have strong negatives to go along with their strong positives.

    3G service is still in its infancy in the U.S., with Verizon Wireless way out front, having already rolled out its EV-DO service throughout much of its footprint. Sprint recently said it will catch up quickly and Cingular will have 3G in a number of U.S. cities early next year.

    I found the wide coverage of 3G to be highly compelling when I tried Verizon's EV-DO earlier this year. And, while slower than most hotspots, typical current 3G speeds of between 300 Kbps and 500 Kbps were fast enough for virtually all tasks I had to perform. However, for me, those advantages weren't worth $80 a month, which is the going rate for 3G. I'm guessing only a relative handful of people will benefit enough from the ubiquitous nature of 3G to pay that much.

    Why is 3G so expensive when there is popular competing technology? I speculated last week that the cellular operators could be actively discouraging adoption of 3G so they can use their networks for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and other high-profit uses. Whether that's true, users are hardly racing to sign up -- my estimate is that subscribers to Verizon's EV-DO service only number in the low six figures. And the Voting Booth survey confirms disinterest in 3G, with only 20 percent saying they'd prefer 3G.

    By contrast, hotspots are faster but harder to find. Yet, with a preference rate of almost 40 percent in the survey (so far), speed and lower price are still more important than relative ubiquity. And hotspots continue to expand; Wayport, for instance, said this week that it has surpassed the 10,000 hotspot milestone.

    A major wildcard also is emerging in the survey. While 3G only received the nod from about 20 percent of respondents so far, 25 percent said they'd wait for mobile WiMAX. Mobile wireless broadband will eventually be as ubiquitous as 3G and will be at least as fast as hotspots. But many questions about this type of service still must be answered.

    The first question is: When will mobile wireless broadband appear? Pre-standard mobile WiMAX service is at least a year away, with standardization two years away. With Qualcomm's pending acquisition of Flarion, other types of mobile wireless broadband also could become widely available. However, while Flarion's FLASH-OFDM is mobile and already available, WiMAX is winning the marketing battle.

    Convergence occurs as markets and technologies mature. That's obviously the case with mobile devices; converged smartphones have long since started controlling the device marketplace. Within those converged devices, however, the divergence of access methods is obvious. For instance, cellular/Wi-Fi phones are starting to appear as well as technology, such as UMA, for seamless handoffs from one network to the other. Even laptop vendors are getting into the act, with Sony releasing a laptop that supports Wi-Fi and EDGE cellular access.

    This divergence of access methods is a sure sign that the mobile access revolution is just now starting to shake itself out, a process that could take several years. In the meantime, the fact that users seem to want convergence, not divergence, indicates to me that take-up on mobile broadband may go slower than some people expect.

    On another note, our recent Great Tech Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest asked readers to write short essays about important products, trends and humorous issues. The results were quite fascinating. Take a minute to read the winning entries -- I think you'll be impressed.

    Until next time.

    David Haskin
    Editor, Mobile Pipeline

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    Top Mobile News

    Windows Mobile Treo Gets Premature Support
    Even though a Windows Mobile Treo is still officially a rumor, one vendor says it will support enterprises that transition mobilized applications developed for the Treo to the Microsoft platform.

    U.S. Ready For Marketing Via Text Messages: Study
    A vendor's white paper claims that properly-handled marketing via text messaging will be viewed by users as a service, not a nuisance.

    Mobile Users Are Less Mobile, Survey Finds
    New survey finds that two-thirds of voice and data minutes in Western Europe are used at work or at home, although some users have an 'insatiable' demand for mobile data.

    Vendors Claim World Record For Wireless Transmission Distance
    A mountaintop-to-mountaintop distance of more than 137 miles is achieved for a fixed wireless transmission, two vendors say.

    In-Flight Cellular: Step Forward, Step Back
    Qualcomm and Boeing have successfully test cell-phone usage on a 737, but the FAA says ban will remain in place for now

    Phone Virus Spreading At Athletic Event, Vendor Claims
    A mobile phone virus has been spreading this week at an international track and field event in Helsinki, a security vendor says.

    Good Timing Essential For Mobile Success, Study Says
    The successful rollout of mobile applications depends, in large part, on when the deployment occurs, a University of Maryland study has found.

    UWB Group Gets Support In Standards Battle
    WiMedia Alliance to get assistance from industry group to turn its version of UWB into a worldwide standard.

    Music Phones Seen As Weak Rivals Of The iPod
    The first-generation of music phones may lack the sound quality and ease of use to take on Apple's iPod.

    Qualcomm Acquires Wireless Broadband Vendor Flarion
    Deal will enable Qualcomm to offer wireless broadband to cellular operators and wireless ISPs, putting it in competition with Intel and WiMAX.

    Editor's Picks

    Industry Overview: Can Linux Save The Palm OS?
    PalmSource is betting its life on Linux, hoping it provides a future-proof foundation for its troubled mobile platform. The company's gamble looks like a winner -- so far.

    Review: Handset Tunes In Analog TV
    Some countries get to have all the fun. The Japanese Sharp V402SH phone sports a built-in analog TV, so users can tune in to news or a favorite rerun while waiting for that important call.

    Review: SSL VPNs Provide Remote Security Simply
    SSL virtual private networks help enterprises secure large numbers of mobile and remote workers with relatively little fuss. But which SSL VPN is best?

    Contest: The Great Tech Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest Winners
    Our contestants wowed us with their technical brilliance, their biting wit, and their literary erudition. Well, okay ? we got some really great essays. Here are the winners.

    How-To: Fighting Wireless LAN Interference
    Radio interference in wireless LANs is inevitable, but the debate rages in enterprises - and among vendors - about the best ways to fight it.

    Top Trend: The Wonderful Cellular Of Disney
    Here are the Top 11 reasons Disney's new cellular service will succeed.

    Top Trend: From Mobile Observer's Peter Rysavy

    High Speed Downlink Packet Access, the newest 3G technology about to become available in the United States, is fast--real fast--with peak theoretical rates of 14 Mbps. However, actual throughputs will be lower. What can you realistically expect, and when?

    Read more Mobile Observer columns.

    Subscribe to Mobile Observer.

    Voting Booth: Wi-Fi Hotspots Or 3G?

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    In a head-to-head contest, do you prefer 3G with its broad coverage, or Wi-Fi hotspots, which have less coverage but are cheaper and faster. Cast your vote and leave your comments.

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    This issue sponsored by the Nokia 9300 smartphone: The most anticipated device of 2005, the Nokia 9300 is just weeks away from launching in North America. Enter our prize draw giveaway and be one of the first to own this powerful and stylish device?absolutely FREE. Enter now and be a lucky winner.


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