Free software upgrade for Samsung Black Jack

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In what could become a trend in the smart phone world AT&T and Samsung are offering a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 which brings the older Black Jack up to speed with version 2.0. This might sound familiar as this is the same thing that Microsoft did for its Zune users and was roundly applauded for its customer oriented approach. Rewarding customers for taking a chance with the first version of a smart phone can only pay dividends in the long run, this breeds brand loyalty.

All info and updates via the Samsung website here


2007 4Q Financial Reports

In a stunning announcement AT&T Mobile added a U.S. Wireless Company record of 2.7 million new activations in the 4th quarter of 2007, this contributed to them eclipsing the 70 million subscriber mark. Profits soared to $3.14 billion, a 62% increase from 2006, ARPU went over $50, and data revenues increased over 50%. Of course the iPhone was the main reason for these results but still these numbers have to be putting the fear into the other wireless companies as all will be feeling the effects of the economic downturn in the upcoming quarter.

In related news Sprint Nextel lost a staggering 683,000 subscribers while losing over 200,000 prepaid as well. As can be expected with this type of devastating financial news the company has announced the firing of CFO Paul Saleh, CMO Tim Kelly and president of sales and distribution Mark Angelino,. This seemed inevitable after last weeks stock sell off that saw them lose some 25% of their company’s value. A shakeup was in order but I cant imagine how this will help a company that was already in turmoil.

In handset news Nokia increased its market share to 40% while increasing its profit by over 44%, while Motorola took a tumble in market share back to 2001 levels with 12.3% market share in the fourth quarter which is down from 22.4% in the fourth quarter of 2006. This has to be alarming for a company that had worked so hard to cut into Nokia’s dominance. I guess the plethora of RAZR’s and ROKR’s weren’t the innovations customers were looking for in 2007. This news of course was applauded by Samsung who took advantage of the situation by jumping into the #2 position.

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The 3 Best Camera Phones of 2007

Mobile phone cameras have increased in quality to the point where the photos don’t look they were taken in a dark dungeon by a guy with Parkinson’s. That might not be the bench mark the phone manufacturers are after but for the rest of us its important that the camera actually functions like one and the photos can actually be printed.

Thankfully the European market continues to push innovation in the mobile industry and this includes superior integration of high quality lenses and optics in a mobile device. Due to this, its not unheard of to read about a 5 megapixel mobile phone with a 4x optical zoom being announced, a far cry from the VGA cameras of just a couple years back. And yet some manufactures seem determined to make the 3 megapixel option far superior in picture quality instead of pushing megapixels and feature sets.

With that in mind lets take a look at the three best camera phones available:

LG Viewty KU990 lg.jpg
A 5 megapixel camera with the ability to upload videos straight to YouTube. Very impressive 120fps Video Recording feature, includes both auto and manual focusing, ISO 800 for great low light pictures. An impressive device for a company people associate with washing machines and TV’s. Immersion in the market place is starting to happen and 2008 could be big year for the electronics giant.

Sony Ericsson CyberShot K850i se-cybershot.jpg
With autofocus, dual flash (Xenon and LED) variable ISO, white balance, metering modes and a multiple of scene modes this is the cream of the mobile phone crop. With the CyberShot name you would expect great photo quality and you are not disappointed. Sony should remain out in front in regards to image quality and ease of use based on the integration of its own products. Massive resources along with their research and development team should ensure continued innovation.

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Carl Zeiss Optics and a Tessar lens are included in Nokia’s multimedia monster. Exposure compensation, 8 scene modes, a macro focus distance of 10 to 50 cm and a focus range 10 cm to infinity makes for impressive specs. Add to this its video conferencing ability, video stabilization, and both image and video software this device gives the Sony a run for its money. Nokia continues to dominate the market place except here in the U.S. where the GSM providers (AT&T and T-Mobile) do not seem to carry their high end products for some odd reason and until that changes we will have to continue to admire from afar or bite the bullet and drop upwards of $700 for their unlocked versions.

Overall these advancements are a great sign that the mobile industry is listening to their customers, now if we can only get all mobile phones to include Skype and GPS as standard features we just might have something.


The state of the wireless industry

A glaring stat in the 3Q ’07 financial numbers of the top U.S. wireless companies shows that one of the top five companies had so few new activations and so many customers leaving, that they had a activation total of -60,000. The company happens to be Sprint and their acquisition of Nextel is looking like a complete disaster. Having worked for a wireless company that purchased a few other regional wireless companies it is easy to see why this can happen. First off, large companies end up having many many billing systems and this contributes to billing issues and a very confused customer service department.

However I am surprised by their decline simply for the fact that they have great traction with business customers who love the reliability of the walkie talkie (push to talk) technology. Add this to their high end data network and you have to start wondering if a new approach should be taken in their marketing, which is about as exciting as a visit to the proctologist.

Or is this the first indication that the U.S. mobile saturation rate is becoming a problem for wireless companies. In 2001, around 40% of America had a mobile phone, now that number is 75% which is a staggering increase in six years. This is a large part of the reason that US Mobile companies are doing so well financially, they have had a large amount of growth projected as some European countries have a 95% saturation rate which doesn’t leave much for new activations. If this trend continues look for Wall Street to get a little bearish.

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HTC’s hands on approach

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HTC is a company on the rise and with their recent announcement that they sold over 2 million units of their iPhone competitor the HTC Touch they have announced they are now a major player in the handset manufacture landscape. Overall their handset sales eclipsed the 12 million mark which is a huge increase over their 2006 sales. Even with these sales they have mostly stayed under the radar with their products, however with selling half as many Touch’s than Steve Jobs has sold iPhones it can only be categorized as a huge success and they did it without the massive barrage of commercials and hype.

The Touch uses Windows Mobile 6 and it is far more fan friendly than the locked down Apple phone and that just might be why they became so popular. Customers have made it clear they want to have fun customizing their phone and dont want to worry about a software update killing all the applications and personalization they did to make their phone unique.

Link


T-Mobile loses a few handsets

This past weekend one of T-Mobile’s warehouses was broken into and over 8 million dollars in handsets were stolen. However local police officials were unsure if it technically a crime, as it was mostly Sidekicks that were taken. It’s kind of like breaking into Fort Knox and finding that its full of Twinkies all past their sell by date. Oh and all those phones are easily traceable if they are ever added to an T-Mobile account and as they are the only wireless company that supports the Sidekick it should be pretty easy to do so. So remember even though that X-Mas present is in the shape of a Wii it’s probably just a sweater from Granny.

Link

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Viral marketing with T-Mobile

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T-Mobile has launched a viral marketing campaign over at Current.com. Its pretty straight forward, all you need to do make is a 30-60 second clip that emphasizes how you keep connected to your friends and family via your Sidekick.

Prizes:
You’ll get $1,000 for an ad aired on Current TV and up to $60,000 if it is shown elsewhere.

The Assignment:
Create a VCAM (Viewer-Created Ad Messages) that illustrates how this brand keeps its users connected all the time. You can focus on the overall Sidekick brand and family of products, or the new Sidekick LX.

Closes February 25, 2008.

Link


AT&T Launches Enterprise iPhone Plans

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AT&T is now offering the iPhone to business customers. Activation requires the standard 2 year commitment, $45 gets you unlimited data, visual voicemail and 200 SMS’s. For $10 more the SMS total climbs to 1,500 or $20 for unlimited messaging. For all you world travelers out there an additional $25 per month nabs a 20MB monthly data plan good for 29 countries, $60 per month ups the limit to 50MB.

This is obviously for high end users and with AT&T not having an unlimited voice plan this is an expensive option no matter the size of your expense account.

*There are also rumors of a service credit of $25 upon activation but you must qualify, check requirements here


Don’t call it a comeback

Some say you cant go home again but those people use bejeweled SideKicks and should be ignored. I on the other hand am the prodigal son returning to the site that I wrote for some time ago. The reasons for my departure are still sealed by a judge but I was able to finally scrap some cash to make bail and I am back. For those that don’t recall I am the one that has worked in the mobile industry since 1999, right around the same time that GSM arrived in our great country. We will be covering virtually all aspects of the mobile phone industry, even the dark and seedy underbelly of open source and unlocked phones.

So sit back and enjoy…


Mobile Firefox coming to a cell phone near you

Are you tired of your phone’s web browser? Does it stink? Wouldn’t you like to be one of the cool kids that will have Mobile Firefox?

The little browser that could will strike again, only this time Firefox will invade the cell phone market, as specs on mobile devices are finally getting up to snuff to run a nice browser.

Mozilla has said that you will be able to run Firefox extensions with the mobile browser, so they already get bonus points for including one of the best features of Firefox in the mobile app.

The app won’t be ready until after the release of Firefox 3, but I’m pretty pumped to see what these guys have in store for us.

Read [Gizmodo]

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