Dell Streaks but Doesn’t Impress

August 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Technology 

Well, it is official.  The world will be inundated with tablets of all sizes, colors, OSs and capabilities.  Dell recently jumped into the deep end of the pool with the highly anticipated, but slightly disappointing Streak.  It falls smack center in the middle of nowhere: too big for a phone, to small for a tablet.

The OS is archaic, old, last century (well, last year at quarter) in a market that moves faster than you can keep up with.  When Motorola, HTC, and others are boasting Android 2.2, and others talk about Android 3.0, Dell launches a 1.6.  Quite frankly what a waste of one of the most beautiful displays I’ve seen in this category.  I hope Dell brings out an update soon since a lot of apps are not compatible to it (like Touchdown, the only real way to get to a corporate Exchange email/calendar system).

The device is really good looking, and Android is just great (yeah, even the ancient version 1.6).  Just take it out in any public place and people will ask you what is it.  But you will have to take the laughs when you pick it up as a phone.  Maybe Dell, in its infinite wisdom, thought people will use a bluetooth headset to answer the phone or will not mind the geeky look of a huge tablet on your face.  In any case, people will want to know what’s your fabulous device.

Anyway, I have to give them credit for making a bet.  Tablets have 3 places in the market: a substitute for a laptop, a substitute for a smartphone, or a third device.  Apple’s iPad was clearly a bet on the “third device” and against all my predictions, has hit a home run.  Microsoft had bet for the better laptop case in the past, with … well not so good results.  Dell bets on a better phone with the Streak, even with an AT&T subsidy.  Good try, but I don’t think it will work out.  It is too big to be your only phone.

If you’re going out for dinner it takes up a big chunk of the table and it is not pocketable at all.  You’ll need your phone anywhere you go, but a “cleverphone” is not good enough since you may want to use it as a GPS or look for the restaurant, or all the other things we’re used to do with our phones these days.  So you need a smartphone.  At that point you’re in 3rd device territory so you might as well opt for a 7, 8, 9 or 10 inch display.

Oh well, as much as I wanted to toss my iPhone I will still have to wait for a good Android phone for AT&T.

Enjoy.

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Android 2.2 Brings Mobility to the Mobile World

May 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Technology 

Today Google launched Android 2.2 which, in this humble blogger’s opinion is a leap frog from anything else out there.  Besides the obvious smarter smartphone capabilities like the photo gallery, customizable home screen, better exchange support, etc. , it turns your phone into a real mobility powerhouse.  Hotspot and enhanced bluetooth make your phone a gateway to mobility for all other stuff you may want to carry.  I know what you’re thinking, PalmPre had that already.  But Android is mainstream, supported by multiple vendors, and the 2nd best selling mobile OS (after RIM’s blackberry, not iPhone).

The hotspot feature that essentially turns your phone into a Starbucks without the coffee – WiFi hotspot using 3G as back-haul.  3G may not have enough capacity, but remember 4G is coming to a city near you.  The point is, my phone becomes my only truly connected device via the wireless wide area network, with a single data plan that allows any other device that I might carry to connect to the Internet through it, without extra payments.  As lame as the unconnected iPad is, it is the cheapest out there (before the gPad comes out).  My Android2.2 smartphone  will make it connected and I do not have to pay extra data.  With my laptop I can browse the web, download a book, send email, you name it, even if I don’t have a broadband adapter.  My phone is the broadband adapter.

Enhanced bluetooth means that I can now have an ergonomically perfect set of devices to manage my mobile life.  I can carry my phone in my pocket or briefcase and use my headset or car kit to dial, answer an make all phone calls.  I can even play music through my car’s fancy audio without plugging it in.  You can envision new devices that use these capabilities to get connected.  A camera, for example can upload to Picassa or YouTube directly without having to connect directly.  In-car GPS or portable can also connect and get faster first fixes, maps from your phone or PC, etc.

Again, this is hardly new, but the combination of all this features in Android 2.2 brings true mobility to the mainstream, and will definitely put a dent to iPhone’s reign, that is until Apple decides to add these features too.  The question that remains open is how will wireless service providers embrace a single data plan?  Today they all charge for “tethered mode” which is really what we all use in substitution of a broadband card; we don’t buy a card, but we still have to pay for the extra data plan.  If carriers do away with this extra charge, they will create an explosion of data traffic that they are most likely not ready for.  Sprint in the US has created a plan that allows all this for a fixed rate.  Sprint also has the only 4G phone available today and with its partnership with Clearwire they have a shot to regain market share even if it’s only to geeks like us.  Soon others will follow, though.

Soon 4G, better back-haul from your wireless service provider, and an Android 2.2 (or equivalent feature set) can make every device a connected device.  The ubiquitously connected world is getting a push.

Enjoy.

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Ma Bell teaches us a lesson

April 21, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Business, Finances, Technology 

In the shadow of Apple’s kick-butt quarter, AT&T reported results that made the market yawn.  “Yeah, yeah, you sold 2.7 million new iPhones in the quarter, added 1.9 million subscribers for a total of 87 million (1 in every 3.5 US residents uses AT&T), reduced churn, and increased ARPU (average revenue per unit) 3.9%,  and a 30% increase in data revenue; so what?” is essentially what Wall Street said.  I don’t know about you, but a company that still manages these numbers in a market that is essentially 100% penetrated is impressive – sure, a 6%+ dividend helps .  But the really impressive, albeit insignificant number to this humble blogger is the “connected devices” increase of 1.1 million to a total of 5.8 million.

AT&T has close to 6 million non-phone devices on the network.  Now why is that even relevant, my fellow reader (singular)?  Simply because there are a lot more non-phone devices and a lot more things out there that need to be connected than there are phones or people.  Yes, they may not be sexy, play music, browse the web, or even wash your car, but they essentially do everything else.  Beyond the obvious (Kindles, iPads, etc.) these things are everywhere and in desperate need to be connected.

Take your car, for example.  If you have Onstar it’s already connected (not with AT&T) so you know some possible apps.  But imagine a world in which you go to Google Maps, plan a route and squirt it into your car’s GPS!  Or simply download the movie you want your kids to watch from your home DVR.  Your electric meter one day will be connected to so you can monitor your consumption real time (Ok, Ok, i don’t know why would I want to do that either, but you can).  Every thing out there can be connected and can benefit from the internet.  But where things really start changing is with Enterprise Applications.

Next time you receive a FedEx or UPS package go to the web  immediately after you sign for it and voila it says received, in real time because the device where you signed is connected.  The copier service personnel can consult schematics and order parts in real time when his/her machines are connected. Or the copier can ping someone when it’s running out of toner; the end of the  empty copiers or useless service visits.  Making every device a smart device has endless  applications that are starting to look affordable.  Ma Bell’s humble cellular non-phone numbers are starting to show growth.  The ubiquitously  connected world is getting started.  Make sure you are ready for it.

Enjoy.

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Palm Looks for a Helping Hand

April 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business, Technology 

In the past couple of days Palm’s stock (NASDAQ: PALM) has soared from around $3.5 to above $6 (from a 52 week high of $18 by the way) amidst rumors of an imminent buyout.  The question in my mind is who wants to pay close to a billion dollars for a company that looses $100M a quarter, has no cash, and it is debt ridden?  A fraction of that money will get any company in the smartphone game.  Most are already there, arguably with a little excess as I pointed out here.

Granted, their products are good, WebOS is a neat idea, but they have lost the clout they once had.  It is sad to see a Palm, in a way the inventor of the category suffer this fate.  But hey, in this industry you have to listen to Bob Dylan: “You’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, ’cause the times they are a-changing.”

So what happened to Palm?  Execution and focus, lack of them, that is.  Back in the late 90’s with an explosive IPO after a spin-off of US Robotics everything looked rosy.  But they got greedy instead of focused.  But as Michael Douglas said in Wall Street: “Greed is good”.  No question but greed has to have a source.  And my fellow reader (singular) that has to be your products, not Wall Street itself!  It is my theory that Palm, as many other great corporations get too caught up in Wall Street’s metrics, quarters, and their leaders making money off of money alone, that they loose focus on the main thing:  Their products.  Countless corporations (Google, Apple, Toyota, Ford, etc.) are the opposite: they have focused on creating the best products or services, and Wall Street follows.

Greed is indeed good, but with a focused source.

Enjoy.

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Android phone with Yahoo search

March 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Technology 

No, it’s not a typo.   AT&T pulled Google search out of the new Motorola Backflip apparently due to contractual agreements between the carrier and the search engine as reported by MocoNews.  I just think it’s funny that the reason Google got into the mobile world by developing Android is to take advantage of mobile search.  Yahoo, who also wants a  piece of the pie seems to have a better and cheaper mobile search strategy that does not involve a new mobile OS.

Of course, one can always change the preferred search engine on the phone once you bought it.  But it defaults to Yahoo in this case.  Android’s biggest advantage is user customization.  This is like the antitrust fights agains Microsoft for embedding Internet Explorer with the OS “abusing” its leadership to force people to use I.E.  Like people won’t download other browsers!  It is really a hassle to download Mozilla, Chrome, or Safari, right?  Who wants to do 3 clicks?  Not to mention the fact that I.E. updates require more than 3 clicks and it gets updated more often that most geek’s underwear… But let’s not go there.

The trend of Androids with Yahoo, iPhones with Bing, Symbians with Google, Blackberries with Lycos (not sure if it still exists) and all permutations and combinations of those is what’s interesting.  The most useful feature of smartphones (besides the phone) is search.  How many times have you been in a restaurant and wanted to go watch a movie?  Who calls the theater anymore? But now the Search engine, the OS and the smartphone itself are independent entities.   By that I mean that you can go to your favorite website and buy a phone, pick your OS, your service provider and your search engine.  Cool!

It is also entirely possible that carriers and device manufacturers are so pissed at Google due to the Nexus One release that they are cutting them out of the loop.  Perhaps.  But if the trend goes on, for whatever reason mobile search will be up for grabs.  And, my fellow reader (singular) our mobile search is worth money, lots of money!

So when are we going to get service subsidies (i.e. lower data plan costs) from the search engines?  Picture this:  You go to your preferred service provider’s website and choose your plan, phone, OS, and accessories.  On the next screen you pick your search engine which includes an extra incentive.  Yahoo may offer $5/month rebate, Google $50 for accessories, Bing something else.  Now, that’s driving choices.

Google:  If you want to be back in the Android (what a funny incident) subidize people’s data plans and stop making your own phone.  Well, not really, just subsidize my data plan. 

Enjoy.

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