Friday, 31 July 2009
Apple has absolute control of what gets into the app store and that affects company's ability to compete. For example Mozilla have been barred from deploying Fennec and now anything Google Voice is barred too. Conversely Apple has allowed both Skype and Fring to sell through the app store, affecting the overall balance of power in the consumer telephony market.
In the same way that the iTunes sync lockdown would raise questions in the EU this issue is bound to prompt calls for further investigation into the app store and its approval process.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
The appeal is going to be based on telemetry which I believe will show that none of the feeds the team was getting indicated that there was a problem and the first the pitwall knew of the issue was Fernando Alonso's radio call to tell the team he thought he had a puncture. There's a degree of indignation in the team at the suggestion that it would knowingly allow one of its drivers to leave the pits with the car in a dangerous condition, rightly so in my view. Its only necessary to watch Rob Smedley's interview with the BBC on Sunday after his driver Felipe Massa had been injured to see the close bond that exists between any team and its drivers, I can't imagine any team in the sport would knowingly put their man at unnecessary risk.
Will Renault's appeal succeed? I sincerely hope so, although if put on the spot I'd say its unlikely. Which seems horribly unfair on the Spanish fans who will be denied a chance to salute their hero. Not to mention the damage to Renault's corporate image that such an accusation causes. It would be a shame if Renault were to feel that this were a reason to follow BMW out of the sport - which no-one could possibly blame them for doing.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Now those four weeks are going to be interminable...
Michael Schumacher's name has been mentioned by several commentators, but I don't think that's a sensible choice for either team or driver, its almost two years since the Red Baron sat in a F1 car and rule changes have been so significant that its unlikely to be a positive experience for team or driver.
Ferrari has two test drivers, Badoer and Gene, however neither has much recent racing experience although the thought of Gene in a Ferrari at Valencia would certainly boost crowd numbers for what would be his home race. Especially as it looks like Alonso's going to be kicking his heels along with the rest of the Renault team that weekend.
Of course there have been numerous rumours that Alonso is Ferrari-bound in 2010 so there may be an option to secure his services a bit earlier. If those rumours are true then its likely Ferrari and Renault will be enjoying some long distance calls over the summer break.
The last credible rumour would be Sebastian Bourdais, fresh from being released by Toro Rosso, and up to speed on this year's machinery. Bourdais has to be better than his run at Toro Rosso suggests and a stint at Ferrari could be just what he needs to prove that. Won't hurt that his manager is Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari boss Jean and manager of the unfortunate Massa. It wouldn't be the first time that Ferrari have turned to a little fancied Frenchman in this kind of situation, Patrick Tambay replacing Gilles Villeneuve after his fatal accident in 1982.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
This has got to be one of the classic football wind-ups and bizarrely its the king of mind games Alex Ferguson who has lost it in an almost Keegan-like rant. Carlos Tevez's move across the Salford/Manchester border to Man City has hurt Ferguson badly, this poster which glorifies City's status as the only football club in Manchester just rubbed salt into his wounds. Fergie's response (calling City a small club, maligning Tevez and trying to drive a wedge between Adebayour and his new club) was so out of proportion and character that its clear Mark Hughes' buying spree has the old warhorse running scared.
The addition of grit and quality to the squad (Barry, Tevez, Adebayour, Santa Cruz, Toure and probably Lescott too) looks to be developing a City team that can challenge for honours, even if its likely to take some time to integrate so many new signings. So Ferguson has every reason to be scared.
The unlocked 3GS is now available from Expansys at the bargain price of... £919! Given that you can buy the iPhone with a contract from O2 - and remember that includes 18 months of calling and messages - for around £800 in nice easy monthly payments, what kind of person is so committed to their network (and the iPhone) to blow that kind of money on one?
Can I suggest that blowing out your current contract, paying the disconnection fee and resigning with O2 will be a awful lot cheaper way of getting your hands on a 3GS if absolutely must have one.
Expansys are showing 36 in stock, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for that initial batch to sell...
Monday, 27 July 2009
This presents Apple something of a problem. It has a hugely successful iTunes Music Store to consider when it ponders this application. Spotify Mobile is free but requires a Premium Subscription at £10 per month to use. If its subscription is taken up by large numbers of users that's going to hit the iTMS's profitability. After all its only worth subscribing to Spotify Premium if you spend more than a tenner a month on music downloads on a regular basis.
For every 100,000 users that Spotify Mobile signs up that's a minimum of £1million of revenue lost to Apple each calendar month. You can see why they might balk at approving it. However if Apple were to reject the App the same anti-competitive concerns which dogged its blocking of Pre synchronisation would raise its ugly head again. Only this time in Europe where we tend to take a dim view of such behaviour. For this reason alone I expect Apple to make Spotify available without too much delay.
For jailbroken users we can of course use the already available Spot application which is entirely more useful when run in the background...
Most telling of all was Rob Smedley's emotion-filled interview with the BBC on Sunday night where he spoke of "some hope" where none had existed the previous day. The close bond between the pair was clearly evident as was Smedley's distress.
Reports from AEK Hospital this evening suggest that whilst not out of the woods by any stretch, Felipe's condition has improved measurably, he is speaking and able to move his arms and legs. Its likely to be a minimum of a couple of weeks before a long term assessment of his injuries can be made. The most worrying currently being damage to his left eye, although no assessment of his vision can be made until the eye can be opened sufficiently.
Unfortunately it is likely that this accident will end Felipe's career as a Grand Prix driver, which given the situation on Saturday still seems a miraculous escape. It makes the events of Brazil last year even more poignant. However we can say that for nearly forty seconds on November 2nd 2008 Felipe was World Champion and I don't think there's a single person in the sport who would begrudge him that. If he has run his last race then its fitting that the last of his victories came at that Brazilian race, his second win at his home Grand Prix (matching the achievements of Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna) both won at a canter from pole position to chequered flag.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
If you didn't see the incident the details are that Alonso's car was released from the pits before the right front wheel had been properly attached leading to first the aerodynamic finisher and then the wheel itself parting company with the car and bouncing down th track.
After investigating the stewards found that the Renault team had knowingly endangered their own driver and other entrants by failing to warn Alonso and making no attempt to stop the car leaving the pits or stop it out on the track. As a result the team has been banned from the European Grand Prix in Valencia, which will go down well with Fernando Alonso's home fans. Or possibly not.
Renault will launch an appeal, however I hope its unsuccessful, not because of any dislike with the Renault team, but to ensure that this sort of thing is treated more seriously in the future.
The crux of the argument is pretty much 'how very dare you!' which is so badly wrong-headed that it does require some response.
Here's why. Apple have established themselves as the pre-eminent online music store, a service accessible on the desktop only through iTunes. This gives Apple all sorts of anti-competition issues to deal with and I suspect that its actions in blocking access to the Pre may just have been a massive mistake.
Monopolies rules demand that a dominant position in one market area must not be used to restrict competition in another. Which is exactly what Apple is trying to do here. Imagine for a moment if Microsoft had jimmied Windows USB implementation to ignore iPod's and only allow synchronisation of Windows Mobile and Windows Media Player devices. There'd have been an uproar that would have shaken the company to its foundations. Yet this is exactly what Apple is trying to do to Palm. There's a clear monopolistic benefit to Apple controlling the majority of music downloads and being able to make it more difficult for people to get that music onto non-Apple devices.
Should Palm develop its own music synchronisation tool? No, not if it doesn't add value. The Pre will already sync with both iTunes and WMP in mass storage mode, or alternatively just through file explorer's drag and drop interface and as a potential Pre buyer not having to install another piece of software to manage music suits me just fine.
Whilst the Pre is only available in the US, Apple may be able to get away with this kind of behaviour, but I would expect the EU to dole out huge penalties if they tried it on over here.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
My biggest complaint with the TG01 was that the Stripes user interface was pretty rubbish. There's no real feel for where you should be going or what you should be doing to access various programs or settings and, as delivered, its a waste of space. The Orange Homescreen interface works much better, however for pure simplicity you can't beat the Today screen/Start Menu combination. If you aren't a fan of the vanilla Windows Mobile option can I suggest that you abandon Stripes and the Orange Homescreen and budget for a copy of SPB's Mobile Shell if you're in the market for the TG01.
Interestingly other problems that have been identified in other reviews weren't exhibited by the example I had. The screen was as responsive as any other resistive screen I've used and I was able to fly through the device with the lightest of touches. Performance was pretty good too - probably around the same as the XDA Zest, which is my benchmark device at the moment. Now given that there's a 1GHz Snapdragon processor onboard that could be considered disappointing, but actually its no mean feat matching the performance of a device which has around 15% fewer pixels to push around.
I never experienced any problems with screen rotation speed - in fact side by side with my iPhone and Touch Pro 2 there wasn't any measurable difference in the time taken to flip between orientations across the three.
The only shortfall I could see in the TG01 was the lack of a third party browser - IE works okay, especially given the amount of screen real estate available but realistically doesn't being to compare to modern browsers like Opera, Netfront or any of the Webkit based browsers on other platforms. I'm not sure whether this is true of every TG01 or just the one I used, as I was led to believe that Netfront was the installed browser from Toshiba.
Otherwise this was a pretty good smartphone remarkable for its massive screen and incredible dimensions - a huge footprint but remarkably thin. I don't think that given the relative pricing Orange or Toshiba have done enough to make the TG01 are competitor for the iPhone and I'd suggest that 95% of consumers would choose the 3GS over the iPhone despite the higher overall price.
For commited Windows Mobile owners though, this looks like a healthy challenger to the Touch HD and it will be interesting to see how HTC responds.
Tonight promises to be a challenge for Felipe and here's hoping he has the strength and fortune to pull through.
For a long term view of what this means to the sport we'll have to wait for a response from both the FIA and GPDA. However its unlikely that this incident will be able to be so simple dismissed as a freak occurence given its proximity and similarity to Henry Surtees fatal incident last Sunday.
The Ferrari driver was hit by a piece of the rear suspension of Rubens Barrichello's Brawn whilst travelling at over 200kph. The impact appears to have been to the upper left side of the head area and around the eye socket in particular. The parallels between this incident and the freak incident that killed Henry Surtees last week are frightening.
Lets hope that Felipe's injuries are a lot less severe than first thought and he makes a speedy recovery.
Friday, 24 July 2009
I think its as much about tweeking Apple's collective nose as it is about providing functionality on the Pre, but nonetheless its a clear statement of intent from Palm and they don't look like they're ready to lie down and let Apple walk all over them.
Apple's next move will be an interesting marker. If they break the link to the Pre again it will show that Palm has them worried. If they decide to live with it and accept that Palm are able to respond too quickly to any lockdown then that's probably suggestive of Apple's disdain for Palm. If they sue, well I guess all bets are off...
The Pre update does have a number of other useful features, one of which engadget noted as a speed increase. Sounds like the Exchange link has been fixed too. All good stuff ahead of its arrival in the UK in the Autumn.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Given its recent history of failures with some quite promising sounding devices I wonder if its time for Toshiba to cut its losses and pursue a different business sector, as its quite apparent that turning a clever design concept into a working Windows Mobile device is quite beyond them.
Its not like there's anything difficult about it - take one Windows Mobile reference design, maybe add a customised version of Mobile Shell or PointUI and sell by the bucketload. Everyone else seems to be able to manage it, even the Palm Treo Pro which packs a (comparitively) puny 400MHz processor is acceptably snappy. The only possible saving grace for Toshiba would be if the WM6.5 upgrade promised for the Autumn sorts out performance issues.
Although I suspect that by the time that this happens the TG01's reputation will be so badly shot they won't be able to sell them even if they include a full course of Tamiflu in every box.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Most galling will have been the pattern of the failure, with Blackberry users and pre-pay customers relatively unscathed whilst iPhone and other pay monthly customers were more or less wiped off the network for periods of up to 48 hours. This pattern suggests a probable failure of the O2 UK APN/gateway, effectively the proxy which links the cellular and fixed networks together and allows O2 to charge for the privilege of shipping data from your handset to the internet at large.
In this case you have to question O2's disaster recovery and change management processes. Whether the outage was caused by a failed update or a service impacting event O2 should have robust procedures in place to manage the downtime and restore service. In this case that didn't happen and the company should be taken to task for it.
O2. We're better, connected. Except when our network's down, apparently.
Monday, 20 July 2009
The tragic death of Henry Surtees at Brands Hatch yesterday must raise serious questions around the application of safety in some of the sports junior formulae.
The accident itself was something of a freak, Surtees suffering fatal injuries after being struck on the head by a wheel from another car which had crashed in a seperate incident. Surtees' car then continued unsteered and unabated straight into a tyre wall, the driver's foot apparently hard down on the throttle pedal.
Freak accident or not it, its highly unlikely that this kind of incident would have had such tragic consequences in F1 thanks to measures in place to improve safety. Wheel tethers are mandated at the highest level and, whilst wheels still detach in some of the higher speed accidents, the F2 car that Jack Clark was driving was travelling at a relatively sedate speed by the time it hit the tyre wall. I would have expected the tether to keep the errant wheel attached to the car. Its also of note that the F2 car does a much poorer job of protecting the driver's head when compared to its big brother. F1 drivers sit low down with side protection meaning that their heads are much less exposed. It's noticeable how much more of the driver's head is exposed in the F2 car.
Pointing fingers won't bring Henry back, or ease the grief of the Surtees family, however its important that lessons are learnt from this kind of incident to minimise the risk of similarly tragic events in the future.
Lauda called the request as an indication of Hamilton's lack of commitment and pointed out that driver's of his era just got on with it. Haug retorted that Lauda should 'remember when he pulled into the pits and out of a race'.
The race in question was the Japanese GP of 1976, held in torrential rain just a few months after Lauda had been grieviously injured in an accident at the old Nurburgring in similar conditions, returning to the cockpit just six weeks after being given the last rites in hospital.
At Suzuka Lauda decided that conditions were too dangerous and he wasn't prepared to risk his life any further than the end of the first lap, pitting and climbing out of the car, handing his world championship to James Hunt in the process. Lauda even refused an offer from his Ferrari team to blame a car problem for his retirement. The events of the summer and autumn of 1976 marked Lauda out as one of the bravest men in racing and the incident at the Nurburgring last weekend doesn't even begin to compare. Haug's tasteless comments should be disowned by the Mclaren team and the Mercedes man should follow former partner Ron Dennis out of the sport with some haste.
For the record Hamilton's request to abandon the race given the damage to his car and the restricted engine allowance this season was entirely reasonable and Mclaren missed an opportunity by not agreeing to it. Doesn't go anyway to justifying Norbert Haug's crass and insensitive comments though...
Friday, 17 July 2009
Kindle owners who purchased the seminal George Orwell novel 1984 found their books missing from their readers today. Had they all accidentally deleted their copies by mistake? Or perhaps a hardware problem had done it for them? Nope its worse than that.
Apparently the book's publisher 'changed its mind' about the release of the book in electronic form and revoked its license. In response Amazon deleted the book from its store and removed all copies that had already been sold from its customer's devices. That's one good reason for never going down the Kindle route.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
The newest advert is criminally insulting: Copy and Paste? Copy and F*cking Paste, you've denied users access to copy and paste for a year and now its a virtue? Copy and paste isn't even listed as a feature on any other platform because its taken for granted that no-one would be so bloody stupid to launch a smartphone without it.
Worryingly the iSheep generation are lapping it up. I had an iPhone user tell me all about copy and paste today like it was the greatest thing ever invented, "I bet your fancy phone can't do that" he said to me indicating the Touch Pro 2 I was using to fire off an email.
I think I should despair, but I really can't be bothered.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
The driver line-up in Hungary may be a little different than we've become used too, if reports of driver changes are to be believed anyway. It looks like two of F1's underperformers will lose their race seats as the teams head into the second half of the season.
Sebastian Bourdais has been under pressure almost from the minute he re-signed with Toro Rosso, with Nurburgring rumours suggesting that he wouldn't be seen in the car again. Given the Frenchman's record its not hard to understand why Tost and Berger would look to put Alguesuari into the car in preparation for next season - making the Spaniard F1's youngest ever driver, finally eclipsing Mike Thackwell's nearly thirty year old record. Paired with Buemi, Toro Rosso would have an exciting line-up although somewhat lacking in experience - a not insubstantial problem given the testing ban and the need to extract the maximum from Friday and Saturday running on race weekend.
For Nelsinho the problem is going to be more contractual - he was required to score 40% of the team's points by the mid-point of the season and has thus far failed to score any. Given that Alonso, with two world championships under his belt, has managed only 13 that does seem a bit harsh on Piquet the younger, but with Roman Grosjean waiting in the wings its unlikely that Flavio is going to cut him any more slack - although there's nothing in Grosjean's record to suggest he's going to fare any better than Piquet.
I can't say that Apple has done anything particularly wrong here, at least no more than Palm has in piggy-backing on the iTunes connection itself.
Will Palm patch the Pre to re-enable synchronisation? I suspect not. But if they chose to do so it would probably make some sense to mimic a real iPod rather than a generic device making it so much harder for Apple to break it next time around.
Well I said that Toshiba couldn't buy a break when it came to smartphones and so it has transpired with its latest, the TG01. O2 in Germany has had to halt shipments of the device after it turned out that the micro SD card shipped with the phone packs a virus. I'm not sure that Toshiba can be particularly blamed for the problem, as the virus has probably been introduced at the OEM's factory and if not there then more than likely came from O2's master copy. However it is going to hit Toshiba's reputation once again, which makes the job of selling the TG01 against the iPhone (which has been pretty bulletproof thus far) even harder then it already was.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
That's less important than for other platforms as Windows Mobile has always allowed you to install cab files from any source directly onto your device (and a Google search produces 27 million results for WM programs) but its an admission from Microsoft that its previous policy was unnecessarily restrictive. And it would have had a major impact on sales number too, I'm sure that was a pretty big driver too.
In themselves they're pretty important announcement but they're rather more important when seen in the context of Microsoft's "to the death" battle with Google. Google very much reigns in the clouds (sorry, couldn't resist) and Microsoft have made several abortive attempts to catch-up. Putting its core application suite out there is a massive change of strategy from Microsoft. The streaming music service is a pretty quick reaction to Spotify's success - the service only came out of beta in January...
For mobile devices this probably has significant impact for third party Office suites, although how many hoops Microsoft asks mobile users to jump through to gain access remains to be seen...
Monday, 13 July 2009
Its not all roses though, as most of the applications that would benefit from multitasking aren't designed to take advantage of it so there are no notifications when, for example, a friend posts a tweet or sends you an IM. The number of applications which can be run in the background is limited by the tiny amount of RAM, however these limitations are worth living with as the speed with which applications come to the foreground makes switching between apps a much more pleasant experience than on a non-jailbroken phone.
Its nice to break free of Apple's restrictions and actually make use of the phone in a way that suits me rather than having to do things the way that Mr Jobs dictates, even if its still a long way behind Windows Mobile's customisation.
Oh no, that's not quite right, in fact they're the opposite of the truth. And now Rubens is blaming the team because they 'deliberately' lost him the German Grand Prix. This after throwing his toys out of the pram and warning that he'd 'scream and scream and scream' if he found out that Brawn were favouring Button (presumably until he was sick).
The rant at Brawn today was complete lunacy. Here's a team who, against the wishes of just about every fan in the world, retained him over Bruno Senna and then gave him the best car in the field, which he has proceeded to lose with at every race. He was never in the running for a win today and slamming the team after a fuel rig problem is unlikely to buy him much sympathy amongst the people who build, tweak and service his car. Rubens fastest lap at the Nurburgring was a dismal 11th fastest and you don't win races going that slowly.
Rubens, you've become a whining old woman and its getting boring. Pack away the driving gloves whilst you still have a bit of self-respect left. There's any number of people I'd like to see pedalling the Brawn and you're not one of them.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Ron Walker, organiser of the Australian Grand Prix has put another marker in the sand for the FIA, as the battle with the teams continues to rage despite apparent agreement several weeks ago.
Walker has made it clear that without the top teams, in particular Ferrari, there will be no Australian Grand Prix next year. With a similar declaration from Monaco and the near-certainty that Monza would follow suit the FIA's world championship is rapidly running out of races. Given the events of the last week - combatative statements from Moseley and denial of voting rights to the FOTA teams in the technical group - it seems F1 is still some way from a solution.
Its also clear that the vast majority of fans have had enough of the FIA and now actively want the teams to break away and form their own championship. The recent collapse of the A1 organisation seems to suggest that they could go and buy a ready made package all ready to go for next season and cause CVC, Ecclestone and the FIA serious problems.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Orange have officially confirmed the Toshiba TG01 Windows Mobile Superphone (smartphone doesn't do the specs of this monster justice) and should have stock at all locations from tomorrow (July 10th). Pricing is interesting, with the phone being free on the £39 tariff. That's pretty good when you consider the damage the iPhone 3GS will do to your wallet - and this looks like a phone that could compete with that device on a level playing field, never mind with a significant price advantage.
Of course Toshiba have a long history of promising the moon and delivering a scrunched up ball of tin foil (see the G910, G800, G710, and in fact pretty much every Windows Mobile phone the company has launched) so this time I'm hoping that the serious nature of the competition out there will have focused the development team's minds and the result will be a mobile masterpiece.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
We knew it was coming eventually, but here is the final official announcement: Google is getting into operating systems and its tool of choice will be called Chrome OS. This news must be very worrying for Microsoft, whose OS is already under pressure from Linux and MacOS (both with very limited penetration). Google is a whole magnitude of a more worrying competitor and that's got to have Microsoft scrambling its top guns for an immediate response. Windows 7 has had a generally positive reception, but against a typically Google onslaught that may not be enough.
Chrome OS is a lightweight OS aimed at netbooks - I'm pretty sure its going to be little more than a shell for Chrome to run in, with all other applications running inside the browser. It will make its way onto laptops and desktops as well. Google have significant work to do to ensure that hardware support is up to scratch though, always a strong point in Windows' favour. You'd back Google to deliver though wouldn't you?
With things looking bad for Microsoft in the Netbook market, the smartphone arena slowly slipping away and cloud computing and open source both challenging its back end server technologies I wonder if its time for Microsoft to start moving to more all-encompassing products like the (very successful) Xbox and (less so) Zune.
The Techcrunch article references a piece of research by JNK which surveyed 50 stores. Given that this can be considered a representative sample how do the actual numbers stack up when transposed onto Sprints 1400 retail outlets?
The states that not all of the stores contacted were willing to discuss sales, however lets take these results and run with them for now. 40% reported fewer than 10 sales this week (560 stores if repeated across all Sprint's stores) 33% reported sales of 10-20 (462) and 16% reported 20-30 (212). Taking the mid-point of those sales figures this stacks out like this 2800 sales in the first group, 6930 in the second and 5300 in the last group. Assuming that the final 11% (154 stores) not accounted for in these numbers sold 35 devices each then that adds another 5390 sales. Altogether a weekly retail sales figure of 20,420 sales through Sprint stores alone, based on some pretty big assumptions admittedly. That's without Sprint's extensive third party sales network or online sales taken into account.
So I'd suggest that Palm are probably on target to hit its target of 1 million Pres in the first quarter of sales. Not a lot when compared to the iPhone's first week, but still pretty good for a company selling to such a restricted market in just one country.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
That's an improvement on the vague 'Christmas' availabilty announced this morning but still not as good as it could be...
Well I've had the Touch Pro 2 for a week or so now and, despite initial positive impressions, I'm going to have to say that HTC haven't managed to dethrone the Xperia as my favourite smartphone.
Yes it has a better keyboard and yes it does have a larger screen but for my taste there are too many compromises borne of a desire to compete with the iPhone that in the end impact on what Windows Mobile has to offer.
TouchFlo3D is a very nice interface to play with or to show off to your iPhone owning friends - and for people who are looking for an iPhone competitor it does make a good case. It just interferes with the Windows Mobile way of working a little too much for me and also makes the performance a little less snappy than the X1.
The X1's panels are much less intrusive and can either be used extensively or not at all. I have SPB's Mobile Shell panel set as my default but I'll occasionally use one of the other panels as my home screen when conditions dictate. Mobile Shell is probably my favourite application, its fast, very intuitive and manages to work with Windows Mobile rather than against it. I suspect those who have used Windows Mobile for the longest time will prefer the X1's way of doing things to the TP2.
The lack of a 5-way pad on the TP2 isn't a deal breaker, but its presence - along with the excellent optical mouse on the X1 is just a better solution. Other areas where the X1 manages to steal the honours are in the presence of both a headphone jack and camera button, as I've mentioned before.
There are some interface elements which HTC have improved - finger friendly menus and a clone of the iPhone soft keyboard - but a quick search at XDA-Developers will find the same tools for the X1.
In the real world I'd be happy to have either of these as my primary phone, but in the privileged position of being able to choose between them I'll take the X1. At least until WM6.5 arrives for the TP2 this autumn...
It'll be interesting to see how the different subsidy levels stack up, but I'd imagine it would suit Palm to sweeten the deal and incentivise O2's sales force to swap a potential iPhone 3GS purchase to a Pre.
I'm a little disappointed that the Pre is still so far away from landing in the UK, at least it will give Palm a chance to iron out some of its problems and deliver an even more competitive device come Christmas.
Monday, 6 July 2009
In fact the real reason why Apple have implemented push notifications on the iPhone is that they use less memory because the iPhone is horrendously underspecified in this regard and, until Apple can deploy a better specified iPhone, they can't afford to compromise the platform's stability by allowing third-party programs to attempt to run in the background.
Other manufacturers have solved this issue by deploying devices with a much beefier RAM specification to allow multiple applications to run. I have no doubts that Apple will follow suit.
Why? Because other than for messaging services push notifications don't really fill the gap of multitasking. Ask anybody who has tried to run last.fm or Pandora as the music app on their iPhone. And of course with GPS pretty much standard on every phone its only a matter of time before being able to push your location back to a service will become an indispensible tool.
Lets be honest, Apple has a track record of decrying features, at least until they've worked out how to do them - I don't expect that multitasking will be any different. Only not for owners of the current iPhone range.
Friday, 3 July 2009
None of this is new of course, all electronic devices have safe operating ranges. Nonetheless the adverse publicity around discolouration of white iPhones probably needs a rapid response from Apple to avoid the sort of negative publicity which would kill sales of any other company's products.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Oh Toshiba, you don't seem to get a break with your Smartphones do you? The first phones in your Windows Mobile re-launch have been buggy, slow or just poorly designed and now the seriously hot TG01 goes exclusive with Orange in the UK. Yep, that's the network with the worst data plans, something that's going to be very restrictive for a device like the TG01.
Never mind, maybe next week's offical announcement will include some new unlimited data plans that Orange will launch for this potential flagship. Either that or we'll just have to hope that its not exclusive to Orange...
How has the company reached this level of exposure? Well its been a relatively inexpensive exercise, just 10 MacBook Pro 13" notebooks, given away one per day to a random person who tweets with the tag #moonfruit. Its been a runaway success, with the company blowing through the trends top ten, pushing aside Canada Day (yep, a whole nation out-tweeted for the price of a MacBook Pro) and Michael Jackson to reach the top spot. The company has also picked up something over 12,000 followers, a not insignificant crowd, but the acid test will be whether the company can engage with those followers it bought with the promotion, something that can only be proved with time. I'll be keeping my eye on them to see how much long-term benefit gets derived from a short-term gain.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Now if you'd have asked me what the battery life was like on the TP2 I'd have probably told you that it was okay, nothing spectacular. However as HTC have modified the standard battery control panel to include a tab with information about usage (shamefully lifted from the iPhone incidentally!) I can give you a much better idea of how the TP2 handles itself with regard to autonomous usage. Having spent a couple of days carefully monitoring both standby and usage times to ensure the information presented is accurate (cynical, me?) I can say that the control panel presents an accurate picture of real world usage.
So how does it look? Well the phone came off charge this morning and has been used as a music player (via bluetooth) in my car, made several calls on Skype, IM (Live Messenger) and Twitter (Pocketwit) as well as push email (around 100 incoming emails) and web browsing; a couple of mobile phone calls and some messaging; so a pretty busy day. The battery information page is currently showing three bars (of ten) charge remaining for a standby time of 15 hours and 29 minutes and 9 hours 55 minutes of usage.
I don't know what is more astonishing, that I've used my phone for nearly ten hours of the day or that the battery has more than coped with the thorough pounding its had and completed a full day's (8.00am to 11.30pm) heavy usage with capacity to spare.
Smart money is on O2 to be the carrier, however the previous history between Palm and Vodafone could just throw a curve ball in there. Vodafone were exclusive carrier for both the 750 and 500 and I believe that their need for the Pre is greater than O2's who have the iPhone and an extensive XDA range to offer smartphone customers. By comparison Vodafone's Storm/Hero combination looks very weak. Of course Vodafone has its own range of Windows Mobile devices, but unlike O2's XDA range is off the shelf from HTC/Samsung with only Vodafone branding to distinguish them from SIM-free versions.
The Pre would be a valuable tool in Vodafone's consumer and enterprise armoury - especially if Palm sorts out its Exchange issues before a UK release. I would imagine that an announcement next week will mean availability by August at the latest - plenty of time to get new firmware out and clean up the few bugs that people have been seeing.
Of course that then only leaves the issue of price, which could be an interesting pitch for Palm at a time when subsidies are being reduced and a greater proportion of the handset costs are being passed onto the subscriber.
Palm's first month sales were 300,000 units, hugely impressive given its restricted availabilty (Sprint, the third largest network in the US and nowhere else). With UK (and presumably European) sales apparently about to start it will be interesting to compare like for like Pre and iPhone 3GS sales to see just how much of an impact Palm has made.