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5 years ago

Amp'd Deathwatch: The End is Nigh

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Amp'd Deathwatch: The End is Nigh

It's all over tonight, folks, say goodnight to the little MVNO that almost could. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Here's a PDF of what they're auctioning off as part of their bankruptcy hearings (via Wired). Fun bits: More office equipment and computers than you can shake a stick at, a heapin' helpin' of intellectual property (mostly that neat content they created plus trademarks), and a popcorn machine.
  • Surprisingly, it doesn't look like current Amp'd customers will be moved to Verizon, but to Prexar Mobile. Who? what? where? ...basically all of the standard questions apply here. I guess the best place to get started is their webpage: http://prexarmobile.com/. They're promising a "seamless transition," anyhow.
  • Ousted CEO Peter Adderton gave an interview, where he was actually nice to "Pay us now" Verizon and also said that it wasn't so much that his customers were poor deadbeats but that they just weren't getting billed in the first place (oops):
In 17 weeks, we got 100K subscribers, and little problems in billing and collections suddenly became bigger problems. It wasn’t just customers with bad credit, but it was customers with high credit who just weren’t being billed at all. [...] I think Verizon Wireless got a bad rap out of this for no reason. Verizon did a lot to help us through the hard times. I do believe Verizon got the bad end of the stick on this.

Read: Audio Interview: Peter Adderton, Former CEO, Amp’d Mobile

Embedded below: one of my favorite Amp'd commercials. Not embedded below - this absolutely Not-Safe-For-Work-but-hilarious-nevertheless commercial. Their whole "Try Not To Die, Amp'd Mobile is Coming" is looking a little bittersweet these days.

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5 years ago

Motorola Q9 to Come to AT&T August 24th?

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Motorola Q9 to Come to AT&T August 24th?

Boy Genius is reporting that the Motorola Q9 (er, technically the Q9h, since this would be the HSDPA version) may hit the streets on August 24th. The sooner the better, Motorola, because the Q isn't all that hot anymore and you've been getting nothing but bad press lately.

The rumor falls in line with previous rumors nicely, so it's looking good.

Read: Motorola RAZR 2, Motorola Q9, BlackBerry 8820…AT&T launch dates? | The Boy Genius Report

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5 years ago

It's the Software, Stupid.

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It's the Software, Stupid.

So the New York Times just did a write up on Bill Gates' impending (semi)retirement and what it means for Microsoft. Of course the message is that all is well, nobody's worried, everything's fine, move along, nothing to see here, etc etc. On page two, though, we get some nice bits about how Microsoft feels about the oft-rumored Google Phone. Let's take a look:

“How many products, of all the Google products that have been introduced, how many of them are profit-making products?” he asked. “They’ve introduced about 30 different products; they have one profit-making product. So, you’re now making a prediction without ever seeing the software that they’re going to have the world’s best phone and it’s going to be free?”

Zing!

I have a few thoughts on this quote and a bit of editorial after the break. Because Apple's entrance into this space and Google's rumbling have finally made this the conventional wisdom about smartphones: It's the software, Stupid!

  1. There are so many ways to skim revenue off a smartphone it boggles the mind. Money for services, paid either via the carrier or directly, is relatively easy to come by. So the idea that Google won't figure out a way to monetize a phone is a little silly. Nevertheless, that's a nice little jab right there.
  2. Despite #1 there, figuring out a way to make money off online services, especially the mobile variety, is going to be a tough nut to crack. Microsoft themselves just posted a big loss in that division - mostly because of how much they've been investing. So going after Google because they haven't gleaned a clear way to profit off anything beyond ad'n'search is a little disingenuous. Monetizing online services is everybody's problem.
  3. Long overdue here at WMExperts is an analysis of the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction as well as the various sniping from Google, CTIA, and the FCC about it. Let's just say, for now, that if it turns out there's pie to be had in that potential wireless industry shakeup, Microsoft will be getting a piece of it.

The quote continues:

Again, the ability to create compelling software will determine the winners. “The phone is becoming way more software intensive,” he said. “And to be able to say that there’s some challenge for us in the phone market when its becoming software intensive, I don’t see that.”

Read: Microsoft’s Gates Plans Leave Amid Great Change - New York Times via google-phone

Yes and ....huh? Perhaps I'm missing some context here. Presumably he's saying that Google doesn't have the chops to challenge Microsoft when it comes to "the software magic" on smartphones. That's what I think he means, and I think that's probably pretty astute. However, I also happen to recall a certain CEO of Palm named Ed Colligan saying that Apple wouldn't be able to just swoop in and get the software right, that Palm had years of experience and that's what it takes. Well, ok. The iPhone did not get it right the first time, but they got darn close. So maybe Mr. Gates shouldn't throw down like that with Google...

Anyhow, the point is that Gates (and Apple, and Palm too, by the way) all get it, with smartphones today and in the future, it's about the software. The "specs" of phones are all getting really good really fast, they're converging on a fairly uniform set that's good. Processor, storage, screen size, just exactly how many kbits per second your wireless connection can suck down... all of these will get better and there will always be some phone with an advantage here or there, but that's not what matters anymore. What matters now is how powerful, flexible, and elegant the software is.

...or that's what will matter. One of the ancillary benefits of the ginormous iPhone media splash is, I hope, the fact that people are going to realize that it's about the software. The RAZR will go down in history, amongst Cell Phone Historians (good gravy, I wonder if I could get a PhD in that?) as the last mobile phone where the form of the device drove people wild. I see a bright and glorious future coming very soon, on in which we can safely assume that the form factor is going to be pretty darn good in whatever device we covet next. The form will be a given. The function, that's where the action is now.

And I have a lot of faith in the Windows Mobile team and the Windows Mobile developer community when it comes to function. Which brings us back around again, to Google. Google presents an interesting challenge (yes, Billy G, a "challenge") to Microsoft: Can you take the simple, intuitive, and direct spirit of the original Google homepage and apply it to a smartphone? Can you continue to increase the power while also making it more intuitive to use?

Ladies and Gentlemen: Let the countdown to Photon begin. The stakes, they are quickly becoming very, very high.

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5 years ago

Understanding the Cab File

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Understanding the Cab File

If you've ever accidentally tried to open a file you meant to install on your Windows Mobile device form your desktop, you have probably figured out that the ".cab" file extension isn't just a way to know it goes on a mobile device. It's actually a file archive, like a Zip file:

What's neat about that little factoid is that you can "unzip" that cab file on your desktop with WinZip and poke around inside. You can find the files that actually get copied over to your device. What's better is that, at least since Windows Mobile 5 landed on the stage, every cab file has something called "_setup.xml" inside it. _setup.xml is a set of instructions for your Windows Mobile phone - "Send this file to the start menu, make this change to the registry," etc.

It could potentially be very useful if you have installed a program that didn't seem to uninstall gracefully. Just re-download the cab for that nasty little app, take a peek at the _setup.xml file, then go into your device and manually clean up all the garbage it has left behind.

This archive file format has been re-purposed for application installation on Windows CE devices, by specifying a file with a special name that outlines the tasks required to install a given software package. This list of tasks will typically include decompressing and copying various files onto the PDA, but may also contain instructions to configure registry settings, or install shortcuts into the start menu etc.

Read: Windows Mobile Development

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5 years ago

Yahoo Go for Windows Mobile: Finally for us all!

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Why all the Yahoo go attention here at WMExperts? Because it's a great app, or at least it was the last time I actually got to use the thing, which was a long time ago. Two weeks ago Yahoo released the app for landscape-style phones, but today I see that it's available for all Windows Mobile phones.

That's good news, because it means that Windows Mobile now has push email solutions in two free flavors (for Windows Moblie 6, anyway) - Hotmail and Yahoo. Throw in an Exchange server for your work email and suddenly your smartphone isn't pinging the server every hour on its own. Seriously, folks, it's 2007, I shouldn't have to do that.

Read: Yahoo Go for Windows Mobile

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5 years ago

Treo 750 WM6 ROM Leaked

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Treo 750 WM6 ROM Leaked

The circle of leaked ROMs for AT&T's Windows Mobile devices is now complete. We had the early one - for the Blackjack, Then a little later came WM6 for the 8525, and now we have the last of the promised updates: Windows Mobile 6 for the Treo 750, as leaked on XDA. Details are rolling in, partially from PalmInfoCenter:

AT&T Mail, AT&T Music, Games, MS Office Mobile, Active Sync, Calculator, Camera, Cellular Video, File Explorer, Get Telenav, GetGood, Get MobiTV, Internet Sharing, Notes, PDF Viewer (Picsel), Proxy Manager (ATA&T Proxy), Quick Tour, Remote Desktop Mobile, Search, SIM Manager, Sounds, Tasks, Windows Media. Voice Command 1.6 is included.

...In other words, nothing shocking. Still unknown is whether or not it includes the mysterious Video Share Settings found on the Blackjack's leaked ROM. You could go a-huntin' for the leaked Treo 750 ROM, but all these leaks make it pretty clear that Windows Mobile 6 is finally ready to makes its big splash on AT&T - just a little patience.

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5 years ago

FCC Approves Kaiser. Be Still My Heart

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More evidence that the Kaiser is definitely coming to AT&T: FCC approval. Now FCC approval in and of itself isn't necessarily a guarantee that AT&T will pick up the device, but in this case I feel pretty confident. Why? Because HTC actually got three versions of this wunderphone approved:

  • The Kaiser 100 is a camera-less version (think business use)
  • The Kaiser 110 has one 3mp camera
  • The Kaiser 120 has two cameras - the big one in the back and the little one for video conferencing on the front.

The 110 is the one to pay attention to here. Just as with the Blackjack, AT&T (well, it was Cingular back then) took in the single-camera version, as having two cameras sort of makes it a little too obvious that their network isn't all it could be. Why would HTC bother making a less-powerful, short-a-camera version of the Kaiser if not for AT&T to snap it up? That pitter-patter sound you hear is my heart.

The Kaiser is a full-fledged Windows Mobile 6 Pro slider (flip-up, no less) with 3G, built-in WiFi, and built-in GPS. Please hurry. I'm getting tired of Sprint's Mogul being the hottest thing on the block. The rumor used to be "late July", but we're just about fresh-out of July, so I'm thinking mid September (i.e. after the Sept. 8th FCC confidentiality agreement expires). Which is funny, because I'm also thinking AT&T will finally bequeath Windows Mobile 6 unto the Blackjack, 8525, and the Treo 750 around that time. Heck, AT&T, you may as well do it all on the same day - and as long as you're at it, throw in a free pony.

Read: WirelessInfo.com via Boy Genius

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5 years ago

Newsgator Online RSS Reader

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Newsgator Online RSS Reader

The Internets are all a-twitter over NewsGator's new Mobile RSS Reader, designed for that other phone. That's all well and good, but I'm excited for me. Why? Because of the little reminder that NewsGator has had a mobile portal for the rest of us. I use Newsgator for my RSS needs (NetNewsWire on the Mac), and I like it. More to the point (and I'm sorry about this, NewsGator), I don't much like NewsGator Go!. I don't like it partially because of the extraneous Yahoo-esque! exclamation! point! but mostly because I find it relatively slow and cumbersome.

I'm here to say that although the iPhone version (which you can only see on an iPhone) is really cool, the regular old NewsGator Mobile portal is nice too. That is, once you go through the curious hassle of entering your "mobile pin" (which, so far as I can tell, you'll never use again) in your NewsGator settings.

Also - the mobile version is free with your NewsGator account. Just saying.

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5 years ago

New To Me: Windows Mobile Has a "Run" Dialog

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I have written before (and will surely write again) about how I'd like something like Quicksilver for Windows Mobile: A simple text entry field that I could enter short, simple text commands into do Get Things Done.

I'm imagining a text field on my today screen, or barring that a little app that indexed contacts, favorites, applications, and settings via Windows Mobile 6's Smart Search (which also works on email, hint hint). Being able to put a "s" in front of a search would make it go search the web for your terms. Or "t joe I'm on my way" would send Joe a text message that I'm on my way. You get the idea. You can see I want this. I'm not the only one.

Enough background. I came across this sweet, hardcore (in a good way) Windows Mobile development blog and was largely mystified. Until I saw that you could do this: "tap and hold down the ‘Action’ key while tapping and holding the stylus on the clock shown on the nav bar." "Action key" is your center button. This'll work on a Pocket PC / Pro edition phone (but not, strangely, a Treo 750). What pops up is essentially the same as Desktop Windows' 'Run' dialog.

Within this dialog you can enter the path to any executable, as well as any required command line parameters.

Examples you may like to try out are as follows:

calc.exe
iexplore.exe
ctlpnl.exe cplmain.cpl,4,0

Read: Windows Mobile Development » Blog Archive » Windows Mobile Tip: Accessing the Run dialog

Yeah, it's not what I dream of. It's not even all that useful given that it's tough to get to and it doesn't auto-complete or search all the places I'd like it to. But there you go, Windows Mobile has a flavor Run dialog. nom nom nom.

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5 years ago

WMExperts Contest - Win $25 to Spend on Accessories!

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That is right - two new announcements rolled into this here post:

  1. Every week day from now through the end of August, we are giving away one $25 coupon good at the WMExperts Store. Contest rules and suchlike are here. To enter, just sign up for our newsletter.
  2. We're going to be sending out a newsletter (see how #2 here follows from #1?) every two weeks or so, which will feature our top stories as well as special deals from our Accessory Store. To sign up, just punch your email in on the new box you see over there on the right.

Obviously we're not evil, so you can unsubscribe from the newsletter (and still be eligible) anytime by clicking the handy link you'll find at the bottom of it. Also in the "we're not-evil" vein, we never ever ever ever give emails out to 3rd parties. We can't believe you ever doubted us. We're hurt, really.

I'll tell you something else (though I'm sure you could figure this out on your own), we're choosing winners randomly from the pool of people who have signed up, naturally. If you think about it, though, that means your chances of winning are better the earlier you sign up, because there will be a smaller pool of people you're competing against in the early days.

...We're also working on a few other neat new features for the site which should be popping up in a few weeks, so stay tuned.

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5 years ago

Amp'd Deathwatch: Start Choosing Pallbearers

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Update 2: Yeesh. The Q and A now says July 31st. But customer service supposedly is done for. So if you are an amp'd customer, go find a bill with your account number and then get your current mobile # ported asap. How long until we start titling these posts "amp'd zombiewatch" instead of "deathwatch?"

Update: The Consumerist says "Port your number" to another carrier right now. We agree. Here's their helpful how-to.

So Amp'd is selling off assets, perhaps to help with that bankruptcy. And while that might unsettle subscribers, here's the real excitement - It might shut down ENTIRELY tomorrow. That's per a Q and A on Amp'd's site:

Is Amp'd going out of business?
Amp'd is potentially suspending US operations on July 24th.

How long will customer service be provided to help with issues such as ports or credits?
Customer Service will not be available after July 23rd.

Will Amp'd be bought by another carrier?
Amp'd is currently in discussions with several parties.

When I decide on my new wireless service provider - can I take my phone?
Yes, if your service provider of choice uses CDMA.

Read: Amp'd Mobile | Questions And Answers via engadget mobile

Engadget mobile also points out that Best Buy is dropping Amp'd like a bad habit. If you're a subscriber to Amp'd, my condolences. It's looking like a firesale to Verizon is your best hope right now. Actually, your best hope is to take that little CDMA device you have there and see if you can talk Sprint or Verizon into activating it on their network directly.

Previous Deathwatch articles: Amp'd Declares Bankruptcy, CEO Peter Adderton Ousted, and Brief Stay of Execution. Turns out that stay was very brief.

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5 years ago

SMS Turns 15 Years Old

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SMS Turns 15 Years Old

That's the whole story, right there in a nutshell. SMS is 15 - I would have guessed it was older, but maybe that's because I can't imagine my life without it. Now I don't want to say that SMS is a little, er, stunted in the growth department, but .... You'd think after 15 years SMS would be a mature technology, wouldn't you? One that didn't require you to punch in a specific carrier when you're sending from a web page. One that allowed you to forward messages (without the aid of an application always running on the phone). Heck, I'd settle for 200 (or so) characters instead of 160. Just saying.

I know that much of SMS' success is that it's stayed simple in an age of ever-increasing complexity and I'm happy for that, so far as it goes. Seriously, though, who do I have to kill so I never have to configure an email gateway on an unlocked phone again? 'Cause I'd do it, man.

The mobile phone industry is today celebrating the 15th birthday of the Short Message Service Centre (SMSC), the principal application behind text messaging first brought to market by Acision in 1992. The first ever SMSC was introduced as a product designed primarily to deal with the demands and improve reliability of a developing mobile industry, and in that year the first of many deals was signed with Telenor.

Read: 15 Years of the SMS (via ppcaddict)

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5 years ago

ATT Video Share Launches, We Tap Feet Waiting for WM6

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AT&T's new video share service isn't available for Windows Mobile... yet. When they announced that they'd be launching it last month, we noticed a little something something. The leaked BlackJack Windows Mobile 6 ROM had a Video Share app built in. Which means two things to us, given the news from Mobility Site that AT&T has finally, officially launched the service:

  • WM6 on Blackjack, 8525, and the Treo 750 should be right around the corner (I think they're planning on releasing all 3 at once) and
  • At least one of those (the Blackjack) will have Video Share.

Now for the bad news - AT&T apparently doesn't trust its bandwidth enough to allow for two way video - it's one way video and two way audio. Oh well. I guess that's the way it has to be since US carriers and phones with front-facing camera get along like vampires and garlic. Not well.

AT&T Video Share enables one-way live streaming-video feeds that can be seen by both parties while they are participating in a two-way voice conversation. Once the parties have initiated a Video Share call, either one can be the one generating the video stream for the other to see.

Read: AT&T Video Share Arrives in Nearly 160 Markets Nationwide

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5 years ago

TomTom to buy Mapmaker Tele Atlas, NavTeq in Play?

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Let me start by saying that I love TomTom on Windows Mobile - it seems to be the least-resource-intensive among the full featured GPS apps and that matters to me. So I'm inclined to be happy that they're planning on buying up the company that makes the maps they use - Tele Atlas. Supposedly TomTom will be able to gather data from its users to improve the maps. Sure, that's cool.

What's more interesting is that, really, there are two big players in the electronic mapping business these days - Tele Atlas and NavTeq. NavTeq makes the maps for Windows Live Search (swoon) and Notable Calls suspects they'll be snapped up soon as well. That would please me a bit, as it would mean that another mapping client like Google's or WLS's would get more full-featured, but it would also cause me some fear.

Why fear? Well TomTom's purchase is a good case study. They say that TeleAtlas will still be providing maps to other companies, but that decision is pretty much up to the whim of the TomTom management now. Given that TomTom still has the single most annoying GPS software activation process known to mankind, I don't have faith in their commitment to openness. Seems to me what we need is a full-featured, open source, wiki-style map. Hm. Maybe it's time to go contribute to OpenStreetMap, just in case.

Dutch navigation systems company TomTom plans to buy its main map supplier, Tele Atlas, for 1.8 billion euros ($2.5 billion), hoping tight integration of maps and products will give it an edge over competitors.

Read: NavTeq Should Move On Tele Atlas Buyout By TomTom - Seeking Alpha. Thanks to Mike for the tip.

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5 years ago

Qualcomm Chip Ban Continues

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Qualcomm Chip Ban Continues

We just reported that Verizon got fed up with the Qualcomm chip ban and just settled with patent-owner Broadcom directly.

(I guess Verizon figured that they could trust Broadcom since Broadcom had the sense to get rid of co-founder Henry T. Nicholas a few years ago - who has been implicated not only in some stock option tomfoolery but also stands accused of building a secret lair for sex and drugs(!) under his estate. Yes, that's only tangentially related to the story here, but some things are just to juicy not to link. Thanks to Joe for the scandalous tip!)

Anyhow, seems like Verizon made the right decision, as things aren't going so well for Qualcomm:

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed Qualcomm's request for a stay of the ban, saying that it can't consider a stay until a presidential review period is over. U.S. President George Bush has 60 days following the U.S. International Trade Commission's decision from June 7 to overturn the ban.

Read: PC World - Qualcomm Chip Ban Upheld via engadget mobile

So it's looking like it really is going to take presidential intervention to keep Qualcomm's chips flowing into the US. Somebody throw Qualcomm a bone - they're having a rough time of it lately.

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