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5 years ago

Sprint CEO Ousted

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Sprint CEO Ousted

Before we get to the doom and gloom, let's remember that Sprint has a few good things going for it:

  • Great data plans on 3G
  • um...

Ok, ok, they do have the Mogul and the Sprint Touch is coming soon (a little bird bubbatex in our forums tells us November 1st), so they're doing alright on the device front. On the network front, though, they're all over the map. Nextel's iDEN, Standard CDMA, and working to create WiMAX (which they're calling "XOHM", but that's another discussion). I seem to recall they even tried resurrecting Trenchcoat Guy recently and that didn't help, which stinks because he was way cooler than CanYouHearMeNow? Guy.

The real issue is that their stock price is consistent - consistently down. So Gary Forsee has to go, replaced by CFO Paul Saleh. Hopefully Saleh can get things moving, because - get this - I think that #3 Sprint might be looking at upstart Alltel's recent move into easier-to-do-than-WiMAX WiFi plans with more than a little jealousy (buyout rumors aside).

In between the two is T-Mobile, of whom we should not speak until they get 3G (that's getting delayed, too, by the way, their spectrum isn't going to be freed up on time). At the top of the heap, of course, are Verizon and AT&T, shaking their giant, evil corporate heads and thinking "kids today."

Forsee, who has also served as chairman and president, has come under fire as telecommunications giant Sprint's subscriber growth and share price have disappointed investors.

Read: MarketWatch; thanks to Overthrow for the tip

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5 years ago

Google to Compete Directly with Windows Mobile

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The oft-rumored, pratically fabled Google Mobile Phone isn't what many thought it would be. The rumors were all over the map, so much so I avoided writing about it because it was difficult to ascertain even a tiny clue about what was going on.

Well, now we know. Google isn't making the hardware. They're making the software. They're going to compete directly with Windows Mobile, on very much the same business model: make the OS and let hardware people make the phones. The only difference is that, much like their internet offerings, the OS will be free, likely subsidized by ads:

“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”

Some believe another major goal of the phone project is to loosen the control of carriers over the software and services that are available on their networks.

Read: For Google, Advertising and Phones Go Together - New York Times

Analysis after the break, go getchyer panic and then getchyer happy thoughts: click the "read more" link.

Initial Panic

Right now everything feels quiet, like a calm before the storm, like sitting in a foxhole on a foggy morning, like sitting in a jeep on a lost island and watching a cup of water ripple - the T-Rex is coming.

Microsoft has been viewing Google as their main competition for a long time now. If that feeling wasn't cemented before, it is now.

I really hope that this doesn't mean I won't be able to use GrandCentral someday.

Why It's Good for Windows Mobile Users

Now, the bright side for Windows Mobile lovers - there are a lot of bright sides.

Writing a Smartphone operating system is hard. So hard that, at least up to this point, Apple has taken a flyer on it and developed a closed-system that doesn't offer an SDK (we got your SDK right here), or cut and paste. It's a supercharged-feature-phone, but not (yet) a smartphone. Heck, Palm has been saying they're developing something nearly identical to what Google is talking about for years now and they're still 12-18 months away from releasing anything. The point is that will take a long time before Google's featureset will be comparable to Windows Mobile.

Competition is good, despite what people are fond of saying about Microsoft's embrace and extend philosophy. In fact, there's so much growth potential in the smartphone space, anything that grows the market will grow it for everybody (at least for now). The rising tide raises all ships metaphor still applies.

Free (with ads) sounds scary. But I, and I think a lot of other people, will pay a little more for keeping our precious smartphone screen real-estate ad free, thanks.

I really and truly do hope that Google achieves their goal "to loosen the control of carriers." That helps everybody. Carriers are evil, really really evil . Google's motto is "don't be evil." Carriers could learn from that.

Bottom line: It's still the software, stupid, which I wrote in response to a round of Google rumblings back in July:

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?

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5 years ago

Review: SPB Mobile Shell

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5 years ago

What is the Best Screen Type for Smartphones?

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5 years ago

Video First Look: ATT Tilt

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5 years ago

Great Video Streaming Link Site

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Great Video Streaming Link Site

zbop, bringer of Full YouTube on Windows Mobile software, posts up a link in our forums. And what great link it is: http://www.channelchooser.com/mobile.php, which is a ginormous link list of sites that stream video for free over the web. The list is broken down by category and features some relatively big heavy-hitters that I'd previously assumed I would need to buy mobiTV to get.

You'll want 3G or WiFi for most of this stuff - it's mainly streaming WMV and thus should work on pretty much any Windows Mobile smartphone.

My DirecTV package doesn't include Chess TV, so I'm glad zbop has shared this site with us all. Thanks!

Read: Watch television and videos on your mobile & PDA

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5 years ago

Zune Marketplace Getting some DRM-Free Music

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So Zune Marketplace only works with the Zune - not Windows Mobile - despite that fact that both the Zune and Windows Mobile share the same underpinnings. With any luck, though, that may change in November. In November, Microsoft is going to make approximately 1 million of their 3 million song catalog DRM-Free.

It's still unknown whether or not Microsoft is going to change their policy regarding the strange and obscure incompatiblity between Plays For Sure and Zune's PlayReady (my guess: not likely). But we might have another non-subscription option for buying music for our Windows Mobile besides what's available on iTunes or the new Amazon Music Store. In this writer's humble opinion, Amazon is your best bet right now -- let's see if that changes in November.

Here's the bit from the press release, though I suspect nobody is really feeling any real "shockwaves" just yet:

Sending shockwaves through the industry and the crowd of the Digital Music Conference in Los Angeles today, Microsoft became the latest and largest music retailer to offer DRM-free digital music. Today’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Amazon.com launched its own DRM-free digital music store. The Microsoft Music Store will offer consumers more than one million DRM-free songs.

Read: Digital Freedom 2.0 - Protect Your Digital Rights

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5 years ago

The First Device

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The First Device

I'm in the midst of writing Part 3 of my iPhone vs HTC Touch series (Part 1 here and Video Part 2 here), partially because my comrade Mike over at the iPhone blog, Phone different has said that he's going to call me out on our iPhone podcast because I recently used the phrase "iPhone killer" in my Sprint Touch Hands-on Impressions. The upshot of this link-heavy introduction is that I have a new concept in my arsenal of smartphone punditry that I learned from the Foleo and its curious absence (of all things): The First Device.

It's an awkward name for an important thing, which I'll explain after the break.

Foleo Cancellation One Last Time

As I wrote after the Foleo was 86'ed, the Foleo was interesting not for itself (it was underwhelming itself), but because it was an attempt to create a 3rd category of mobile devices, it was an attempt to "go back to formula" when it comes to mobility. It failed, sure, but what was exciting about it was that it made all of us step back and rethink mobility just a little bit. It's not about specs, or form factor, or even User Interface, but some mysterious combination of everything that makes up a gadget that makes it compelling.

This is another reason that the Foleo was a bit of a tech journalist dream - it gave us a chance to rethink the categories we use to think about gadgets. That was clearly Palm's intention - to shake up our preconceptions about what gadgets are. But the idea of a "Mobile Companion" was complicated from the start. Unlike the original Palm and also unlike the Treo, the Foleo didn't have an instant "AHA" moment when you saw it.

The initial "AHA" moment only lasts a little while, though. It gets the money off your bank account, sure, but it doesn't keep the gadget out of the drawer and in your pocket (or in the case of the Foleo, your gadget-bag).

I need to talk about the First Device in the context of the Foleo because it was the Foleo's creator, Jeff Hawkins, who planted the seed in my head. He clearly understands the concept very well. In our conversation at the Foleo launch event, Hawkins again and again spoke about how important instant-on was.

He spoke about how previously, if he wanted to Google something quickly, he'd go to his Treo. With the Foleo available, it supplanted his laptop and he'd use that instead. The point was that the Foleo became his go-to for quick information. It became his First Device.

First Device

That, in a nutshell, is that the "First Device" is: your go-to gadget that you grab first when you want to "do something." That "something" is different for everybody

  • a quick search
  • YouTube
  • SMS
  • getting directions
  • checking your To Do list
  • jotting down a quick note

...these days it could be pretty much anything.

A "First Device" is what smartphones are to most of us. You have this thing that you grab right away to Get Things Done or Be Entertained. You need it to have a few compelling features:

  • Instant On
  • Easy to Use / navigate (software-wise)
  • Aesthetically Pleasing (in other words, fly)
  • The right size

It's not just about immediacy, though that's important, it's also about filling a need that you have. After you've used your First Device, you want to feel like you got your thing done with a minimum amount of hassle, you want to feel like you accomplished something cool.

A gadget becomes your First Device over time. You have the initial "AHA" moment, then you come back to it, and eventually you learn whether or not a given gadget gets your thing done without getting in your way. Eventually you build an affinity for that gadget and it becomes your First Device or you learn to loathe how it keeps you from doing your thing and it becomes an eBay auction.

Different devices are better at being different kinds of First Device. Blackberries, for all their faults, are great email First Devices. Feature phones are great phone call First Devices. PalmOS devices are good catch-all First Devices, though it's hobbled these days by its looks and speed. Windows Mobile... more on that below.

It's not enough to make a Smartphone that's able to do anything. What a Smartphone needs to do is be a compelling First Device in the category that matters to you most.

iPhone vs. Windows Mobile as a First Device

For me, the iPhone is a good media-First Device. That's to be expected, given Apple's institutional experience with the iPod. But the iPhone is a shockingly good Web-First Device. If I want to check the web quickly (and I'm in a WiFi zone) and I have a Windows Mobile device, a powered-down laptop, and an iPhone sitting on the coffee table before me, I'll usually grab the iPhone. Words can't describe how much better Mobile Safari is compared to anything else out there I've used (including the Webkit-enabled Nokia devices).

Windows Mobile can be a great First Device in nearly every category. The problem, in my opinion, is that it's very personal - you need to do some work to make Windows Mobile become a First Device for you. A Windows Mobile device I've set up is a killer First Device for me in 85% of the uses I want. But were I to hand it to somebody else, it makes a terrible First Device.

Afternoons and Coffee Spoons

Doctor, every time I drink coffee I get this horrible pain in my right eye.
Take the spoon out of the coffee.

Apple made a perfect cup of coffee, web-browser-wise, and then took the spoon out. Everybody else has made a mediocre cup of coffee and left the spoon in -- just in case you want to add more sugar or cream or whatever.

The spoon in this metaphor is the ability to customize your device. It's wonderful to have, but it often pokes you in the eye. It also means you'll be less likely to be able share your coffee with somebody else.

At the end of the day, I do want that spoon in my coffee cup so I can adjust the coffee to my tastes. That's why the iPhone can only be my First Device in a couple of categories. Windows Mobile isn't nearly as pretty, but I can stir in some hazelnut flavor or whatever (Captain, the metaphor is breaking down!) to make it fit my tastes.

I just have to remember to take the spoon out sometimes.

What's your First Device? Sound off below!

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5 years ago

Great New Soft Keyboard

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Great New Soft Keyboard

Just yesterday I hoped that we'd see a thumable QWERTY/suretype mashup keyboard from HTC, well today it looks like somebody's beaten them to the punch: CooTek. If you're one of the 800,000 Touch users, it behooves you to go check out TouchPal. As you can see from the screenshot above, it's eminently thumb-able and has a very nice word prediction setup. It also handles punctuation very well.

Basically you can just tap tap tap away and use the auto-word completion dictionary to get your words right. But if you need to be exacting, you can tap-slide in any direction to get a specific character or punctuation mark. The upshot is that each button can put out up to 4 different characters, but in 90% of your usage you don't really have to think about it. Using it for 10 minutes has pretty much convinced me to make it my primary input method.

Best of all, it's a free download until Dec 8th, 2008 (a bit random, but I'll take it). It comes in both QVGA and VGA flavors.

They claim you can get up to 300 characters a minute. Check out the video after the break to see somebody with faster thumbs than I have do just that.

via PocketPCMag

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5 years ago

Verizon: Still Evil

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Verizon: Still Evil

So Verizon will let you change your plan without re-upping your contract. That's Good.

Verizon, like all carriers, are very unforgiving about letting you get out of contracts early without paying early termination fees. That's Bad.

Verizon can choose to cancel your contract on you for "good cause" and then still charge you the early termination fee. That's ugly Evil.

Consumerist found the nasty clause in Verizon's contract:

We're all very familiar with the idea that a consumer has to pay an early termination fee if they drop service before their contract is over, but this clause comes as somewhat of a surprise: "An early termination fee will apply...if we terminate [your service] early for good cause."

Sorta makes two empty cans o' corn and a bit of string look a little more appealing as a communication option. The Green Giant won't be charging you any early termination fees. He "stands for goodness", not evil. If only tin cans ran Windows Mobile.

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5 years ago

Tilt. $299. October 5th.

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Tilt. $299. October 5th.

We expect it to be the Best Damn Windows Mobile Device. Ever. But expectations do not a smartphone make, so we won't know for sure until tomorrow, which is when the Tilt is finally available in retail. We all know the slider form factor has been tweaked so the screen can tilt up for easy viewing. We all know the specs by now:

  • 3G (HSDPA and UMTS)
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0
  • Integrated GPS
  • 3 megapixel camera
  • Windows Mobile 6

...What we didn't know was the price, it's much less than I expected. $299 with contract. Without contract - we don't know yet, but our battered and beaten wallets will find out tomorrow.

The AT&T Tilt is the first AT&T-enabled Windows Mobile 6 smart device and features an innovative slide-out QWERTY keypad design, a 3-megapixel camera, 3G data speeds from AT&T's UMTS/HSDPA-based BroadbandConnect network and complete global connectivity.

Read: AT&T- News Room

I guess the "tomorrow" I previously mentioned was, in fact, just the "internal to AT&T" release of information. Oh well, if you take shots, sometimes you miss.

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5 years ago

Zune runs on Windows Mobile or CE?

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Zune runs on Windows Mobile or CE?

Ok, so I'd assumed that the Zune ran on top of Windows Embedded CE (maybe version 5, maybe version 6), which also supplies the underpinnings for Windows Mobile (version 5 of CE provides underpinning for WM5 and WM6. CE 6 is supposed to underpin Photon). It's all very confusing, this article helps a bit.

In any case, the New Zunes hit and everybody's a atwitter over them. Which, of course, makes people ask about Zune Phones to compete with the iPhone. We already knew that Microsoft is more likely to build a Zune into future versions of Windows Mobile than they are to build a phone into the Zune's OS (thus sayeth the Ballmer). Check out this quote from J Allard, though:

J Allard, the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) executive in charge of Zune, was interviewed by Reuters and one of the questions was: So are there any thoughts about a Zune phone?
“A: (Points to head) Yes. (Points to mouth) No. (Laughs) The thing we are focusing on is that Zune is music first. We think there is a lot of runway first in redefining the music experience with partners. That said, we built it on the same operating system as that phone right there. (Points to Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Q running Windows Mobile) So we have the flexibility to take these in a different direction where our customers, our partners and we are ready.”

Read: mocoNews.net

Der. So the question is, what does "the same operating system" mean? Windows Embedded CE or Windows Mobile? Put another way: is the Zune a sister-OS to Windows Mobile with the same father (both based on CE), or is it a child of Windows Mobile (based on WM). Or perhaps it's some sort of twisted, southern-stereotype combination of those two options.

So when a Windows Mobile "Zune-edition" phone comes out, will it be its own grandpaw?

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5 years ago

More on the Touch, Touch Dual

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More on the Touch, Touch Dual

In our forums, Surur links us to a bunch of videos - one, two, three, four of them - showing off the features of the new Touch Dual. I use the current EDGE-only HTC Touch as my main device, but I've been loathe to talk about it since it hasn't received any official carrier support here in the US. That may be a mistake, though, as HTC recently announced they've sold 800 thousand of the cute little buggers worldwide. I have a friend in London who says that "all the cool kids have them." Here too, my globetrotting friend, here too.

I digress. The Touch Dual, as we said before, one-ups the Touch by adding 3G and a slide-out keyboard in two different flavors. It's "nerfed," though, because it drops the WiFi. There are other benefits. The first is that HTC is still improving on its TouchFLO interface. Now we see that you can draw a circle around a photo to zoom in on it, flick to scroll between photos, access a new shortcuts menu by pulling down the slider, and change ringer profiles from the today screen.

Additionally, according some folks in this thread at XDA, we may be able to expect the keyboard pictured at right to be made available to current Touch owners. If we're lucky, the rest of the TouchFLO improvements will arrive too. Hopefully they'll make their way to the soon-to-be-released Sprint Touch (read our hands-on impressions) as well.

Still, though, the Touch "Cube" still only has 3 sides and isn't easily customizable. Please fix that too, HTC.

HTC: Serious about taking on the iPhone. (Again, here's part 1 and part 2 of our Touch vs. iPhone series).

the new HTC picture viewer, which uses gestures, and perform similarly to the iPhone. I think their circular gesture is actually more intuitive than the iPhone's and can probably be done more easily one handed too.

Read: HTC shows why they dont need multi-touch - WM Experts

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5 years ago

Change Your Plan on Verizon

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Change Your Plan on Verizon

Verizon is now slightly less evil than they were before (full disclosure, I think pretty much all wireless carriers are evil): starting on October 7th they will allow you to change your plan without renewing your contract. I've been burned by this policy (albeit on Sprint) so many times that I'm now the spittin' image of Darkman. I can't recall what the plan-change policies are on the other carriers, but if if your carrier still has this anti-customer policy in place, be sure to give them the hint that "you know, your competitor, who is looking very desirable right now, doesn't make me re-up." Can't hurt, right?

Verizon Wireless has announced another consumer-friendly change to its policies: It will allow customers to change their wireless service plans without requiring an extension of their contracts.

The carrier said the change will be effective Oct. 7

Read: RCR Wireless News via PocketPC Addict

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5 years ago

Must Have Windows Mobile Software

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Must Have Windows Mobile Software

In Part One of this series, we covered How To: Install, Uninstall, and Transfer Files on Windows Mobile. Now that you're an expert on installing, let's take a good look at the What... what software do you want to install and where to find it. Because there is so much WM software out there to choose from, it can be a VERY expensive adventure, trying to figure out which programs you really want or need.

In this part of the the Windows Mobile Guide, I will focus on what are the must have software apps I recommend everyone should have, software apps I would suggest getting, and where to get them all. I will even show you where to get tons of software for free...legally!

RECOMMENDED FIRST BUY SOFTWARE

Every WM phone comes with the basics that you will need right out of the box. You could, for the most part, get by without buying anything extra. But there are some really cool ad-ons that can make your phone more user friendly, more entertaining, and personalized for your specific personal or professional needs and wants. Sometimes it is just because the software that came with the phone is simply too basic and you really want/need those extra features and tools.

I am actually asked fairly often what is the first thing they should buy for their phone, and here is what I tell them (click on their names to see more details of any of the following programs):

MUST HAVE SOFTWARE

  • Resco Explorer 2007 for Pocket PC: This is what the original WM File Explore should be. It gives you full control of finding, viewing, and managing all of the files on your phone and memory card. It is easy to use and loaded with options and features.

  • Spb Mobile Shell: I personally recommend only three Today Screen plugins to everyone. This is one of them. It offers quick photo speed dialing with one finger tap on a picture of the person you want to call. It gives you quick access to your favorite and most used programs. You will always have the latest Weather at the tip of your fingers with the weather program of your choice. It is organized in tabs that help to make sure that you do not accidentally launch a program or call someone when the phone is in its case or in your pocket. It also offers one of the easiest ways to find a contact and call them with the included Spb Contacts.


  • Spb Phone Suite: This handy little plugin allows you to view how many calls you have missed, plus how many Voicemails, Emails, SMS, and MMS you have not read. This also includes a call filter so you don't have to worry about getting calls from those you put on your blacklist, and it gives you an option to send a text message to someone if you cannot answer their call right then. It includes phone profiles, so by a tap of your finger you can silence everything on your phone when you enter a meeting at work, or make sure that everything is as loud as it can be if you are in the car. These profiles can be scheduled ahead of time to make sure you don't forget to set it. It also offers a photo speed dial.


  • PocketBreeze / ContactBreeze: This dual is the third Today Screen plugin that I personally recommend to anyone. It makes it a snap to review your calendar, look up contacts, and read your email... all without opening up any PIM or email client. It saves you time and it saves you loads of memory so you do not have to have a calendar and email client running in the background at all times.


  • Sprite Backup or SPB Backup: This is absolutely the single, no questions asked, MUST HAVE! There is nothing more frustrating (or heartbreaking) than when you just got your phone all set up just like you want it... you have all your contacts entered... all your games installed...all the Registry Tweaks are just the way you want them... and then... tragedy strikes and for whatever reason you are forced to do a hard reset on your phone wiping out all your changes and bringing the phone back to the same state as if you just opened the box for the first time. Either Backup program will work fine. It is often times more of a personal preference vs features. I personally use Sprite Backup. Keep an eye out in the future for a Smackdown review between these two backup solutions here at WMExperts.

    SPB Backup:

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