Long-term followers of this news network know that we have a few staple data sources – Austrian retailers tend not to be among them. Nevertheless, the data provided by Austrian retailer Niedermeyer was too interesting to pass by – by December 8th, the most popular phones looked as following:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S
  2. SE X8
  3. HTC Wildfire
  4. Nokia C7
  5. Samsung Wave S8500
  6. Nokia X6
  7. SE Vivaz
  8. SE Vivaz Pro
  9. Nokia C6
  10. Nokia 5230 Navigator

The most important thing shown by this rank is the immense success of the new “battle of material” strategy employed by Samsung Austria. In short, it can best be explained as following: f### over Nokia, no matter what it costs!

Austria has recently seen Samsung devices being thrown into the masses by both governmental (A1, Galaxy S) and private(Hutchison, Wave, Wave2) carriers via heavily-advertised exclusivity deals. Samsung Austria furthermore has a highly trained team of people focused on “business”, and nothing but. They might not be as sympathetic as Nokia’s folks – but outperform them in terms of negotiation efficiency.

If you add in that Samsung can afford to make a loss on phones as it has other businesses like PCs and construction, a clear picture arises: Nokia is in trouble and will IMHO have a hard time retaking the top spot (s) in Austria without sacrificing margins significantly.

What do you think?

P.S. Walk on an Austrian road, and you see Samsung ads – Nokia ads are few and in between. Furthermore, Nokia’s attempts at negotiating exclusivities have been described as lacking by various carrier insiders…

galaxy tab vs treo Samsung Galaxy Tab   demographic reflectionsOne of the core questions which arose in our consulting practice in regards to the Galaxy Tab was short and sweet: who will buy the thing! As our contacts at Samsung’s didn’t yield much, here’s a bit of personal reflection on the thing until the official review drops.

As devices have become smaller and smaller, the paradigma of small is beautiful has been etched into our brains. However, this is not true for all usage scenarios: for web sites and reading stuff, Mr. Mika’s paradigm (big is beautiful) could very well be true.

It is these two jobs where the Galaxy Tab excels. The additional smartphone features like voice calls and a camera are implemented as well – but one can feel that they are not the intended use cases.

Making phonecalls with the huge brick will likely make you look funny – and the only interesting part of the (horribly noisy) camera is its social media integration. In fact, this is amusing…as the large screen of the tab would have allowed high-quality pictures to shine.

I see the Galaxy Tab as the forefather of a new generation of devices, which will act as a “secondary phone” in a fashion not dissimilar to what the Palm Foleo wanted to be.

The current incarnation of the tablet will see usage in all scenarios where the added bulk of a laptop is prohibitive – if you romp around aircraft or building sites all day, toting sketches on a tablet saves you both weight and scrolling…

Palm has learned a lot about how to treat third-party developers – the exchange of many foul fruits, the new and mobile-experienced parents and the constant pressure from Apple have done a lot for the company.

This is best seen in the following statement from HP’s CTO, which hits us via PreCentral:

We also support the homebrew guys. You hear about all the guys hacking phones and unlocking the phones, we actually encourage that. You can go out to PreCentral or any of the sites that support the Palm homebrew guys. they’ll tell you how to unlock your phone and how you can download the homebrew sites. The homebrew guys have just done some phenomenal work from the standpoint of really unlocking the true power of webOS.

Unfortunately, not all is good:

Inside of HP with the 47,000 engineers I issued a challenge [...] for the HP engineers to go create apps, consumer apps [...] I stopped counting at 750 apps and my mailbox has totally exploded.

No (sane) third-party developer wants to compete against the OS or device vendor. Motivating insiders to create webOS apps is a very bad idea and makes the platform a lot less interesting.

This effect has appeared multiple times in the past; and even if HP plays perfectly fair, the bad taste from past (Microsoft) cases remains in the mouths of third party developers.

Palm IMHO should take an example from Samsung – a company which is based in Korea and thus knows extremely well about “formal rules of engagement”. They have been financing, wining and dining third party developers all over Europe for the last months – but have not offered a single direct contract to any of them.

For Samsung, the effect is exactly the same (they get apps). However, third parties who are not privy to the winery don’t tend to hear about it – and don’t feel miffed in the process…

Given a device as “big” as the Aceeca PDA32, I have decided to give myself at least a few hours worth of hands-on time with the machine to allow my thoughts to settle before writing anything here.

First of all, a proof photo that the machine is real and in my labs. Click it to get the full and unedited version:
 Aceeca PDA32   first impressions

Even though this unit is not a final, production unit, it feels very solidly in the hand even though it has but a plastic case. The buttons are pleasant, and the form factor is ergonomic albeit it being extremely “fat”.

Looking back at the device and comparing it to handhelds like Palm’s evergreen IIIc, the PDA32 appears like a very solid and great performer. Of course, its design lacks many niceties which were introduced on later machines – more on that as the review progresses. When compared to today’s devices, the device barely stands a chance.

However, the device’s competitors are non-existent: Palm’s excellent quality control has taken care that most original PalmOS hardware is now in a state of total decay. Thus, a Palm OS head has no real choice – and, if he can live with the fat form factor, will most likely like the device.

As for me, the device has served to awaken beautiful memories of a long-gone past. Memories of a Palm economy where press, software and hardware developers were a small community which knew one another and worked together. Unfortunately, time has moved on…

The PDA32 sample will now face our regular test battery in a preliminary review, and a final sample will pass through the same process in a ceteris paribus fashion.

But these words should have been said in advance…

Don’t ask me why, but it looks like ganging up with Access Co. isn’t too good an idea. The company’s self-esteem has apparently shot through the roof after the PalmSource takeover; resulting in, well, excessive amounts of staff attitude. The boys have found themselves pressured by Operas superior technology for some time; and were furthermore unable to reap significant revenue from their super-expensive purchase.

Emblaze’s ELSE was thus considered a “silver bullet” for the company by many onlookers. If the box would sell well, it would make the platform viable – but it apparently never made it onto the road last but not least due to lack of public interest. An official press release from Emblaze finally announces that the device is indeed EOL’d:

ELSE’ management have since invested considerable time and effort to secure a
partnership for the sale of the First ELSE mobile devices. While there was
encouraging interest in the device by potential partners, management was not
able to confirm a deal on terms acceptable to Emblaze to proceed to the
production of the device.

Due to critical delays in deliveries and the current status of the project, the
board has now decided to cease any further investment towards manufacturing of
the First ELSE mobile device and to concentrate efforts only on licensing the
ELSE Intuition platform
and technology in order to realize its potential
upside.

For me, this sounds a lot like the Palm/PalmSource split – let’s see whether they or Access will be the first to go down….

 AT&T offers iPhone insurance to cash in on phone theftPeople who have attended one of my talks on mobile phone security (e.g. Confidence, SIGINT, IT Underground) already know why carriers don’t particularily mind theft – after all, a stolen device means that the former owner will buy another one (often at outrageous OTC prices). AT&T has now taken this bullshit one step further.

According to the Boy Genius Report, AT&T will now offer an insurance plan:

The insurance plan, which will be run by Asurion, will carry a price tag of $13.99/month and will be available for purchase through Apple’s App Store. The charges will be billed to the credit card on file with Apple. … You must enroll in the plan within 30-days of upgrading/purchasing a new iPhone.

Let me explain the reason for the outrage further: each and every GSM-based network contains provisions for keeping “unwanted” phones out of the network – the so-called EIR database (an element of every GSM network) always contains the provisions for IMEI blacklisting. A carrier can ban any phone from its network by simply adding it to the database’s blacklist.

Given that Apple and AT&T could easily gang up with law enforcement and eliminate the resale value of stolen devices, I consider it socially outrageous that the two now start to peddle insurance. But it makes sense economically – after all, if your iPhone is stolen, you’ll likely buy another one anyways.

Just think about market share and sell through…

Nokia’s Ovi Store might be well thought-out – but it currently is nothing but a well of angry developers. Two of these recently bumped into one another…and it was only natural that an interesting discussion followed.

One of the two claimed that Nokia “did not care about individual developers, and considered the Ovi store but another tool to promote handset sales. Apple, on the other hand, cares about individual coders and app variety.”

Even though I can’t fully agree with his sentiments on Apple, the different approaches nevertheless should be explained further. Let’s start out with the Cupertinians. They originally were hardware manufacturers, but quickly figured out that there is much easier-earned cash in content. iTunes was the logical consequence of this thinking, and the iPad also.

Apple could theoretically sell the iPhone at a loss in a fashion similar to what Sony did with the PS3 – the iTunes store would eventually even out the budget That is, if it contains enough shit people are willing to cough up for. Apple’s interest is thus to keep the iTunes Merry go round spinning…

Let’s now look at our sauna-dwelling friends. Even though they often state that they want to become a service company, the moment they sweat (Sauna!!), the old hardware thinking model comes out.

My impression is that Nokia’s situation is similar to the one faced by Palm a few years ago: while the top and the very bottom knows well where the fish is stinking, the middle management still sees Ovi as a tool to promote hardware sales.

This, in turn, explains why Nokia is obsessed about downloads rather than sales. The average journalist is too dumb to figure out a paid/free ratio – which means that more numbers leads to more good press.

Today, the post ends here. What do you guys think?

thanks to Matt Brenner from unme2.com

Dear Readers, I love you all! Thank you all for talking back about my recent post re the Pre overclocking issue. Please allow me to clarify something here.

The passage that most of you took offense on was this:

Given that Palm never did this before, it IMHO is highly likely that the Pre has severe thermal issues, which would be exaggerated by raised CPU frequencies! This means that an extensive computing session could quickly lead to a toasted Pre.

Please allow me to explain a bit more. Every object has a “thermal capacity”; which we can imagine like a bucket for water. Heat is dissipated to the environment (water out of the bucket), and it can also be produced from electric energy (water into the bucket).

Obviously, a healthy device would always have an empty bucket/steady water level as all heat gets dissipated – and the Palm Pre also has that. Your Pre’s work flawlessly at 800MhZ – but this does not mean that it will work so for everyone.

Let’s, for a moment, assume the following: you are on a train (aka bad wireless signal), are charging the aged battery (extra heat dissipation), tethering to a PC which downloads Windows Updates, have BT on and – finally – play a 3D game.

Let’s go on to assume that the amount of heat generated is just a tiny teeny bit more than what can be dissipated. This means that the bucket fills up slowly but surely. It might take hours, but it might just happen.

For knowledgeable users (who see that their box is hot and turn it off), this is no problem whatsoever. But lets now put the Pre into the hands of a dumba$$: he could fry his Pre, theoretically hurt his hands due to the high temperature, and sue.

Palm could theoretically have worded the statement as: this is not for dumb users who have no common sense. However, dumb users are offended easily…which is why Palm chose the wording which they used.

Hope to have this cleared up now!

Palm’s recent situation has caused quite a bit of Sprint bashing: if the Palm Pre had launched on Verizon, blah, blah. While I can fully understand the annoyedness of Palm stockholders, I think that Sprint is not the culprit.

We must keep one thing in mind at all times: when the Pre launched, Palm was considered dead meat!

Verizon, AT&T et al would have kicked their a$$es out of the front and back doors when suggesting a new product there. For them, Sprint was the only company which was willing to wager a bet with their new product…and it actually worked out decently well for them. Bad advertising did of course take its share at f%%king up the launch, as did the insane delays and quality problems. However, these issues are in no way Sprint’s alone – and are, in fact, more of a problem of Palm than of Sprint.

For me, Sprint plays an integral role in the success of Palm: keep in mind that many (Japanese) manufacturers manage to make a living off a single (Japanese) carrier. Given a lean organizational structure, Palm could live off Sprint alone! Pissing them off thus is not a good idea…

For me, Sprint is not part of the problem, but rather part of the solution – what do you guys think?

We hear rumors about large device manufacturers buying Palm every odd week – and most of them are bogus. After all, why should a manufacturer give up on its successful OS?

TamsPalm reader Robert now shared an interesting theory:

Oh let me add one more company to my list…Qualcomm. They make many of the components for phones already, if they bought Palm then they can make the phones cheaper because of this.

Yes I do think they have the money. If you open almost any cell phone you’ll see something thats Qualcomm. Would they want to? I’m not sure. It would make sense as would the other companies I mentioned, but I only hear rumors of companies that already have OS’ that are doing well.

It may be a little-known fact, but QualComm’s BREW operating system is used more widely than you think. It has even made inroads into basic smartphones – but is not really suitable for these devices.

For QualComm, webOS would be a smash hit. It is flexible and can adapt to various screen sizes easily; it drives data usage due to its “webby” nature, and is pretty powerful too.

Thus, QualComm buying Palm would make sense – the question is whether they have the money.

What do you think?

I’d file this report straight into the under-reported but interesting category. When it came to CPU’s, QualComm was a nobody a few years ago – in the last two years, it became hard to find a non-Qualcomm mobile device.

The CEO of the company now stated the following according to Mobile Business:

Qualcomm’s chief executive Paul Jacobs said he sees the number of wireless chip providers shrinking either through consolidation or players disappearing, reports Dow Jones Newswires. “Consolidation will happen or people will leave the market,” he said.”We’re trying to make that happen sooner.” He also appeared to rule out the prospect of buying rival ARM.

Given that ARM is a fabless IP core vendor, and that Samsung has already all but left the market, this essentially targets one vendor: Marvell.

They bought up Intel’s assets a few years ago, and never got much out of it – Intel’s XScale CPU’s dominated the market, whereas Marvell’s new processors are almost invisible.

QualComm buying up ARM, on the other hand, would be a total GAU scenario. As ARM holds tons and tons of patents for ARM processors, it would allow QualComm to effectively stop competing chip vendors from creating ARM-based processors…

Roaming has recently caused quite a bit of headlines due to EU intervention – the EU commission used its power to topple over free-market prices on roaming (info for US readers: the EU has powers which significantly exceed those of the federal government).

While I am not against this in any way, I think that it will not solve the problem. The solution will IMHO come from another side – traditional, former governmental carriers.

If you look at Austria, you see our former governmental carrier is in a terrible mess. Outdated Ericsson transmitters consume insane amounts of electrical power, and over 4000 employees who can’t be fired make operations unaffordable. Small and agile carriers like Hutchison have fun f##king them over here and over again…

But: A1 also has some strengths. For example, a law required by the carrier was passed by the government within 7 days – Hutchison was lobbying for the same law for ages. Furthermore, A1 is a member of a large global alliance similar to the Star Alliance in airlining.

Hutchison has offered free roaming in its networks for ages – but as it has but 7 countries covered, the offering is of limited value. A1′s alliance, on the other hand…you get the idea…

Thus, I see the solution coming from somewhere else. If legacy carriers are pressured enough in their home market, they will look offshore in an attempt to find value.

For A1, offering “global roaming” is a question of an email or two (they already do it for governments and large entities). This would then lead to closer cooperation between smaller carriers (see Airberlin and Hainan)…

What do you think?

P.S. Orange has already started the trend by giving its customers complimentary free minutes to call phones all over Europe…

In the mobile industry, all things go in waves: things are cool, get forgotten about and come back again. Apple’s iPhone made stylusless touchscreens cool – come the winter, the coolness stops.

The image below hits us via kottke.org:
sausage stylus Why styli are a good thing

According to him, more and more South Koreans now use sausages to allow them to tap on their iPhone’s screen without undressing their gloves. Insane, but true…

The point is this: a stylus is better in various usage scenarios ranging from hitting small targets to on-screen writing and note taking. After all, humans don’t dip their fingers into ink when it comes to writing…

Just in case anyone of you has still been living under a rock: the Apple tablet has just been released, and it will be called iPad (not iSlate). Those of you needing a bit of technical information can find it below – the rest of this piece will look at the reasoning behind the box.

Hands-on with the iPad
Price information

First of all: the folks at Palm’s will likely jump over their house door backwards three times. The iPad is no danger whatsoever to their new devices – no multitasking and no keyboard mean that the device is almost unusable for business. Other manufacturers don’t have to worry either…

Apple’s iPad also doesn’t target the existing tablet PC crowd: these devices also cater to a completely different audience. Business folks and note takers are not the target here…

When it comes to mobile usage, the box also can’t achieve much: it is too big to be truly portable, and offers too little to replace a notebook. So no cheese here, either.

Instead, the iPad is a passive media consumption box. It is a large personal media player more than anything else – users are expected to take the critter to bed or to the couch and look at TV, do some casual web surfing or listen to music. Active input will take place someplace else.

The device thus ties in perfectly into Apple’s existing ecosystem, and will likely sell like the AppleTV did. But it IMHO won’t have much of a lasting impact on the mobile world as whole…

What do you think?

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