MobileTechRoundup podcast 285: Surface RT as iPad replacement?

After a few weeks of use, Matt’s Surface RT has replaced an iPad for most purposes. But what bought the Surface Pro: a compelling package or a let down? Hear about portable speakers from both hosts and learn more about the very connected Chevy Volt.

MobileTechRoundup podcast 257: CES preview; Nokia Lumia 710 impressions

On this week’s audio podcast, Matt and Kevin share their expectations for next week’s big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Nokia Lumia 710 is in hand, so both hosts share their thoughts on this very capable $50 Windows Phone device for T-Mobile’s network.

Today in Mobile

Strategy Analytics predicts that HTML5 will explode in mobile over the next few years, with one billion HTML5-enabled phones being sold in 2013, up from just 336 million this year. As my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out, that’s good news on at least two fronts: the technology will enable developers to write a single app that can be used across devices and platforms, and it can help users continue to access their apps when they switch devices and operating systems. But it’s still very dangerous to think of HTML5 as a panacea — while it’s ideal for some basic kinds of apps, it still doesn’t provide the rich experience that native apps can deliver. So developers should continue to use whichever technology best suits the needs of their app and their users — even if that means writing multiple versions.

Today in Mobile

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam confirmed this morning that next year the carrier will roll out family data plans, enabling users to pay for data usage on multiple devices from a single account. As my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out, the move families will be able to share “buckets” of data, just as they’ve long been able to do with voice minutes. That makes a lot of sense as A) more everyday consumers are using mobile data on their phones and B) more of us are using tablets and other connected devices in addition to our phones. So I expect several other carriers to follow Verizon’s lead in short order.

The time is finally right for MVNOs in the U.S.

The U.S. MVNO market is now largely a niche where a handful of companies provide phones and services on the cheap. But several notable new players are joining the space next year and will provide a different, more-specialized kind of service; network operators could benefit in a big way.

Today in Mobile

Developer Trevor Eckhart has released a video detailing the workings of the popular (but little-known) software from Carrier IQ, and the findings are disturbing. The app — which is pre-installed on more than 140 million phones, is nearly impossible to get rid of and can’t be disabled — logs nearly every activity on the phone, from dialed numbers to the content of text messages to Web browsing, and reports that information back to Carrier IQ’s servers. The company claims its software is used to “measure key parameters of service and usage,” as my colleague Kevin C. Tofel notes in this thoughtful post, but I highly doubt most consumers will be OK with it. Expect some fallout in the coming days — and probably beyond.

Today in Mobile

A Robert W. Baird survey of 1,100 potential tablet purchasers confirms everything you’ve heard lately about the tablet market. A staggering 94.5 percent of respondents cited the iPad as “a device of interest,” while HP’s TouchPad was the second-most cited gadget, garnering interest from about 10 percent of those polled. That certainly helps explain today’s story from All Things D that Best Buy has managed to sell less than 10 percent of its inventory of TouchPads, and it’s obviously bad news for any competing device. And it supports my colleague Kevin C. Tofel’s recent argument that the tablet market may simply be an iPad market after all.

Today in Mobile

The mobile industry is waking this morning to the huge news that Google plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, marking a 60-plus percent premium for the business. Some of the best posts so far in reaction to the news: My colleague Kevin C. Tofel questions whether other manufacturers of Android handsets will trust Google post-acquisition, Henry Blodget outlines why the deal could be a disaster, and Florian Mueller explains why the pick-up isn’t entirely (or even primarily) about Moto’s patents. The most level-headed response I’ve seen comes from Darrell Etherington over at The Apple Blog, who predicts the deal “won’t give (Moto) what Apple has.” That’s probably true, but it’s still an acquisition that will have a huge impact on the mobile world.

Today in Mobile

TmoNews.com is reporting that T-Mobile USA will change its smallest data plan, installing a hefty charge for users who surpass 200 MB of data rather than throttling speeds when the allotment is reached. As my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out here, it appears T-Mo is making the move because too many users misunderstood terms of the model that implements throttling network speeds. Which underscores just how important it is for carriers to make it very clear to users what the consequences are of exceeding their monthly data buckets.

Today in Mobile

Boy Genius Report is getting attention for this post outlining details about Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Colt, which reportedly will be the manufacturer’s first handset to run its QNX platform. The transition to QNX — which shows substantial promise — is vital for RIM, which has suffered greatly over the last year due to its dependence on the aging BlackBerry OS. But as my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out, the Colt may have trouble if BGR’s report is accurate: the handset, which is due in the first quarter of 2012, will reportedly feature a single-core processor while many of its competitors are already rocking dual-core chips. And the Colt may ship without support for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that has been key to RIM’s success. So the slick new OS is no guarantee that the Colt will find an audience.