The Party Line — Phone Buzz of the Day

Here are some of today’s phone conversations I enjoyed reading or viewing on the web, along with some brief thoughts:
tmobile_logo-300x300T-Mobile Lights up 21Mbps service in Philadelphia (Wireless Week) — I don’t know of any devices that can use it yet, but I wish I did since it’s in my backyard. T-Mo now has 20 cell towers offering zippy HSPA+ service in Philly. The GSM carrier is leap-frogging AT&T’s upgrade plans for 7.2Mbps service, but without supporting devices, there isn’t much to offer just yet. T-Mo says the HSPA+ service will expand in 2010, and like AT&T and Verizon, plans for LTE in the future.
HTC Snap reviewed times two (Gear Diary) — Interested in either the CDMA or GSM HTC Snap? I am, since I loved their predecessor, the Dash. Both get the review treatment and confirm that the Snap is a solid Windows Mobile device. Long battery life was a common denominator, but the keyboards are noticeably different. Oh and that Inner Circle function for managing key data? That got two snaps in a circle.
OneDialer brings Google Voice to WinMo (WMExperts) — This bit is old, but I marked it in my RSS reader for later. Seeing as I thoroughly enjoy using Google Voice on my Palm Pre and Apple iPhone, I thought OneDialer might be handy for Google Voice users with a Windows Mobile device. It’s $7, but there’s a 15-day trial for you. It appears to integrate with your native contacts, which is a huge time-saver.

Femtocells Are Great, but the Payment Model is Backwards

att-femtocellSorry for the mini-rant here, but I still don’t get the appeal of femtocells. These are the “mini cell tower” devices offered by carriers in order to provide good signal coverage at home for your cellular phone. Today, AT&T became the last of the big four U.S. carriers to offer such a device (at least in a limited trial) and Engadget Mobile says customers will pay $19.95 a month for unlimited calling through the femtocell. Sounds great, right? Let’s dig a little deeper into what a femtocell actually does before you sign up for a monthly commitment.
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i-mate Closes the Doors — Another WinMo Maker Lost

i-mate 6150As if Microsoft (s msft) didn’t have enough to worry about, with handset makers dropping Windows Mobile right and left, phone maker i-mate has shut its doors. The company produced i-mate branded handsets running Windows Mobile from its headquarters in Dubai. Reports had the company instructing employees to take a two month unpaid hiatus, yet the employees returning for work the next day found the doors locked and the company totally shut down.
Retailers waiting for orders to be filled by i-mate are understandably concerned with the sudden shutting of the operations. The company’s web site is still operational, but I wouldn’t be ordering any phones from them.

Palm Pre App Catalog Soars to Over 80 Titles

findapps_2009-18-09_095403OK, “soars” might not be the most appropriate term when compared with 75,000+ titles in the iTunes App Store, but humor me. It’s just exciting to see more official apps for the Palm Pre on what looks like a weekly basis now. Besides, 15 new titles increases the catalog by 22 percent. If Palm can keep that growth rate up, it’ll catch up to Apple by 2014 or so. 😉
Tops on my list to download today is Chess for webOS. I find that a good turn-by-turn strategy game is perfect to pick up throughout the day. The game is auto-saved, so you don’t need to run the app all day long. I’ll also have to check P2GoogleVoice to see how it compares with gDial Pro with my Google Voice account. Send My Location sounded good at first, but I’m a little disappointed — the software shoots your exact GPS location by email or text. I was hoping for something a little more robust, but I’ll take what I can get. P2SnippetS sounds useful, however. The software is essentially an über-clipboard that stores frequently needed text bits so you can paste them as needed. MediPDA, TipCalc, Hebrew Calendar, Ditto, Reversi, Deadman, Dot Game and three versions of a picture comparison game also land in the catalog.
Oh, I almost forgot about the Survivor: Samoa title. Aside from the cast bios, vids, and show updates, you can manage a Survivor Fantasy team on your Pre. I think I’ll pass on that — I’m already smarting from a one-point Fantasy Football loss in our opener last weekend.
All kidding aside — Palm needs apps to compete with the other platforms out there. That’s only going to happen if developers see a lucrative market for their wares, which means Palm needs to sell bunches of webOS devices. The company did sell 823,00 smartphones in the most recent quarter, but no breakout numbers were given. However, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said that the vast majority of those were Palm Pre handsets. To capture the attention of major development shops, I’m not sure that’s enough. Until webOS devices are in the hands of 1.5-2 million customers, apps for Android and iPhone handsets will continue to arrive at a far faster pace.

Every Smartphone OS Needs a Killer Feature

Spy_2The phrase “killer feature” is an awfully tired phrase in the smartphone world. Every phone needs one, every smartphone platform must have one, and supposedly we consumers all want one. Now that we have several smartphone platforms vying for our cash, it is more important than ever for smartphone OSes to have that killer feature.
Apple (s aapl) had an advantage when they introduced the iPhone, because the smartphone market was just getting defined. They knew they needed a compelling phone design, and they produced it. The iPhone OS was important too, but not as important as the phone hardware. Apple didn’t take any chances on that advantage lasting forever, though, and the OS was designed with the user in mind, and was much different than anything available at that time. Those days are over though, with smartphones appearing every day and several platforms on the scene to fight for acceptance.
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The Party Line — Phone Buzz of the Day

Here are some of today’s phone conversations I enjoyed reading or viewing on the web, along with some brief thoughts:
samsung-omniaproSamsung OmniaPRO B7330 launching in October (Akihabara News) — The QWERTY keyboard on this Windows Mobile handset reminds me of the one used by BlackBerry Tour, but maybe it’s just the “smile” under the keyboard. Samsung will offer this with a 320 x 320 display, which gets two thumbs up from me — 240 x 320 has been around since Pocket PC 2000. The device will feature a 3 megapixel shooter, FM radio and support for 7.2Mbps HSDPA. The OmniaPRO will run Windows Mobile 6.5, which tells me we’ll see it on or about October 6. There’s a slew of other handsets in the upcoming Omnia lineup as well, so pick your poison accordingly.
Sony Ericsson joining Android bandwagon with Xperia X3 (Unwired View) — Looks like Google’s mobile operating system does have legs after all. I jest, but it seems like everyone (but Apple) is becoming an Android cheerleader. Sony Ericsson is likely to be next with the Xperia X2 X3, possibly as early as January of next year. This one is expected to be all screen — 4-inches with a not-so-standard 800 x 400 resolution, and an 8 megapixel camera. Android on a budget, this isn’t.
zunehdBrowser wars: ZuneHD vs Windows Mobile 6.5 (pocketnow) — OK, the ZuneHD isn’t a phone at all, but it might be someday. Pocketnow offers up a video comparison (6:20) of Microsoft’s browsers for these two mobile devices. I have a ZuneHD review unit on the way and I’ll be hitting the browser myself because I’m hearing mixed reports on it. It does have a nice minimalistic view that reminds me of Fennec though. Have a look and see for yourself.
iphone-paper-dockMake a usable iPhone dock from cardstock (Mobile Computer) — It bugs me that I didn’t get a dock with my iPhone 3GS and it doesn’t quite fit in the old original iPhone dock. Sure I could pay $29 to Apple, but why not make one from cardstock? A French site offers a printable cut and fold version that’s better than nothing. It even supports holding the iPhone in landscape mode for viewing vids. Time to go find the Xacto knife.
xpphoneWindows XP and phone all in one (jkkmobile) — We’ve been down this road before yet the destination was never as good as the journey. This time it’s the xpPhone that’s priceless. I don’t mean priceless as in “you want it at any price,” but rather the price hasn’t been fixed yet. What would you pay for a 4.8-inch touchscreen device running Windows XP on an AMD Super Mobile CPU with integrated 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more?