Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!



















Happy New Year from your friends at Smartphone Fanatics!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Living with My BlackBerry Curve: The Hardware


It has been a little more than a week since I swapped my trusty Palm Treo 755p for a BlackBerry Curve 8330, both for the Sprint EVDO wireless network and it has been an interesting experience so far.

I'd like to start off by talking about some of the hardware differences between my BlackBerry and Treo.

The Curve is about a third thinner than my Treo. Eyeballing them both on my desk, the Curve and the Treo are the same width and height, although the Curve is a tiny bit shorter. As far as weight is concerned, the Curve is also a lighter when I'm holding both in my hands, but that so much that I notice a difference when carrying the BlackBerry in a belt case.

I miss the Treo's ringer switch with the BlackBerry. And I like the Treo's keyboard better. The keyboard on the Curve is usable and I am getting along with it OK, however, the Treo keyboard just felt better and more sturdy. The trackball on the BlackBerry is easy to get use to. I like it as much as the 5-way navigator on the Treo because it allows you to hold the device in either hand and use it. That wasn't the case with older BlackBerry devices that only had a scroll wheel on the right side fo the device.

Probably the biggest thing that I miss on the BlackBerry that I used all the time on my Treo is the touch screen. It was really easy to just reach up with a thumb or pointer finger and tap an object on the screen.

Some other welcomed changes wtih the BlackBerry include a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in (assisted) GPS, a mini USB port for charging and data synchronization (which is now the standard on new Palm devices), and a 2.0MP digital camera with a flash. Palm's Treo 755p ships with a 320x320 display. The Curve has a 320x240 display. The difference in display resolution has turned out to not be as big of a deal as I expected it would. I have found both displays easy to read. That said, the BlackBerry has an auto adjusting screen brightness feature where the screen brigthness goes up in well lit rooms making it even easy to ready in a well lit room in the office or at home.

Voice call quality is good on the BlackBerry and I was able to pair my Bluetooth headset with it. The speaker phone option is loud which is good when your home with the kids, however, my not be so good if you are in your office. You will need to adjust the call volume to meet your needs and environment.

All in all, the BlackBerry Curve offers the same hardware features that I like about my Treo. I prefer a full Qwerty keyboard over on screen keyboards like the one found on the Apple iPhone and the multi-function keypad on devices like the BlackBerry Perl. The track ball is as easy to use as the nav pad on the Treo. Both devices fit nicely in my hands, however, I do miss the soft touch paint that Palm has ben using on the Treo 750, 755p, and the newest Sprint Centro smartphones.

For more information about the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series devices, check out Research In Motion's BlackBerry website.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

1SRC Podcast 203




The latest 1SRC Palm-Powered podcast has been uploaded. In the latest show, I cover:

  • Doug Jeffries will join Palm as the new CFO on Jan 7, 2009.
  • Palm Q2FY09 conference call summary.
  • Palm has launched a web based app store.
  • 1SRC Editorial: Palm App Store 2.0.
Listen to 1SRC Podcast 203...

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

LG's Swiveling Flip Phone

I'm probably making something out of nothing, but all this talk of swivel phones has gotten me thinking. Are swivel phones all the rage or are designers just geeking out about the new Star Trek movie and the 1960s era flip open communicators? I have no idea.


















Check out the full EngadgetMobile article...

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Opera Front End 1.1

If you like to use Opera's Mini Java browser on your Palm OS smartphone (or PDA) Opera Front End 1.1 looks like the app for you.
"Opera Mini is the outstanding mobile browser from Opera which also works on Palm OS devices. Unfortunately, it doesn't behave like a default browser, URL's can't be transfered from other apps and access to special characters is limited.

OperaFrontEnd is made to change all this: Opera Mini is now your default browser, URL's are enqueued into Opera Mini and the access to the build-in keyboard makes it possible to enter every single character your Palm can display.

OperaFrontEnd v1.1 even allows you to fall back to good-old Blazer whenever you need it for downloads or compatibility issues."

Opera Front End is on sale for $2.95 at MobiHand until December 31, 2008. For more details, visit the MetaViewSoft blog.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Where Have I Seen This Idea Before?




















BoyGeniusReport.com has a picture of a Research In Motion BlackBerry keyboard patent that shows a drawing of a BlackBerry Pearl-like device with a fold out keyboard.

Interesting that this photo surfaced. Didn't we see an "unidentified" smartphone that transforms to allow you to use a hidden keyboard? I wonder if these transforming phones are all the rage in smartphone OEM developer circles?

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Apple iPhone Coming to Wal-Mart

Gadgets On The Go is reporting that Wal-Mart will begin selling the Apple iPhone G3 this coming Sunday, December 28. The retailer will carry both the 8 and 16GB editions of the phone at $197 and $297 with a new 2-year service agreement.
“We are delighted to bring customers this ground-breaking mobile technology,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Entertainment, Wal-Mart, in the press release. “Our electronics associates have been preparing for many weeks for the arrival of iPhone 3G. We are excited to now help new customers learn more about the features and services that make the iPhone unique.”

[Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net...]

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Chirstmas from Smartphone Fanatics
















Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings from your friends at Smartphone Fanatics!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Editorial: Palm App Store 2.0

I was about to write up a review of Palm's new App Store when I saw that TreoCentral's Annie Latham has a well written review posted. Rather than rehash what has already been written, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my vision for an integrated, wireless, cloud based solution from Palm in which a Palm app store is a critical componant along site a Palm customer service portal along the lines of the myPalm.com beta.

As you can see from the screen shots below, the App Store icon launches a web page that is the same on a Palm OS Treo or Centro as it is on a Windows Mobile Treo. The web app solution gets Palm around a problem that they had previously had with the myPalm application which was that it was only for Palm OS handhelds and smartphones. (This was because the previous myPalm app store was based on the Bluefish Wireless AddIt application that Palm has included with their PDAs and smartphones since late 2003.) Now all of Palm's customers can join in on the buy-it-on-the-go fun. I wrote about why I think Palm needs an integrated on device application store in the 1SRC.com editorial, "Palm Needs an App Store."



















(Tapping the green App Store icon lauches a web URL to the online Palm App Store which contains some 5,000 combined Palm OS and Windows Mobile applications.)

The app store that I envisioned when I wrote that editorial operated more like Appl'e App Store and the older myPalm AddIt application that Latham wrote about on TreoCentral here. I would like to see Palm provide an integrated solution. The web based app store will download and install the Palm OS or Windows Mobile application installer over the air (OTA) to your device and that is really cool and simple for novice users to get apps on to their devices. But what happens when the device gets hard reset? Palm needs to make sure that it is easy for customers to access their unlock codes, serial numbers, and installers. An integrated solution would make this possible. One solution could be similar to the now defunct myPalm.com portal where customers would login to a Palm customer service portal and be able to access their purchased software and find their serial numbers. An alternateive or companion option would be to use some of the features of also defunct Palm Backup application where the software prompts users to login to the Palm portal server and then be able to redownload and install their software. All over the air without the need to sync to a Windows or Mac OS X desktop computer.

This leads me back to a cloud computing portal solution that I suspect that Palm could have been looking at before the economey took a turn for the worse. A Palm solution similar to Apple's Mobile Me offering could offer a spot to sync your PIM data to, manage OTA device backup and restores along site OTA software download and installation. A small desktop application for Windows and Mac OS X could plug-in to the cloud portable to provide a similar destkop experience that we have today only without the hassle of having to deal with wired data synchronization and USB device drivers.

In conclusion, I think that Palm has all the pieces for a new cloud based solution. The question now is when can it be implemented. Palm clearly has all hands on deck to ensure that Palm OS II / Nova is successfully launched on new hardware. Will a new cloud portal solution go live at the the same time that Nova does? What about Windows Mobile? Will the software be developed for Windows Mobile Professional 5 and 6; or will Palm focus on a new integrated on device application of Windows Mobile 7? My guess is that Palm will focus new software devlopment on Nova and Windows Mobile 7 while existing devices can still access the PocketGear web app store that Palm recently rolled out.

Now that integrated, cloud based solution (desktop to device wireless sync, customer service portal, and OTA application installs and backups) is one that I'm looking forward to. It has the potential to reduce the toubleshooting and support issues around USB drivers and data synchronization; it will give customers easy access to new applications for their devices; and all of their information (PIM data, purchased software, and device backups) can be easily accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Let me know what you think by using the comments link below.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

BlackBerry Activated

As planned, I activated my Sprint BlackBerry Curve 8330 this morning. The folks at the local Sprint customer center had some trouble removing the Power Vision Pack from my account and adding in the BlackBerry personal Internet data pack, but everything seems to be working now.

The next step is to get my email accounts configured on the BlackBerry. At this point I'm not sure how I'm going to acomplish that. Looks like I'll be spending some time with the BlackBerry user manual this afternoon.

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Elevation Injects an Additional $100 Million Into Palm

In a press release issued earlier today, Palm has announced that investment firm Elevation Partners will make an additional $100 million dollar investment into Palm, Inc. Elevation will purchase the additional shares from Palm's newly issued Series C stocks and has paid a 31% premium by acquiring the shares at $3.25 each. The Series C stock issued by Palm has a 0% dividend rate. With the second planned investment of $100 million into Palm, Elevation Partners will have invested about $425 million dollars into Palm.
"The additional capital from Elevation Partners will enable us to put added momentum behind the new product introductions scheduled for 2009 and will provide us with enhanced stability in unsettled economic times," said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer of Palm, Inc. "Elevation has been a great partner to Palm, and we appreciate their continued confidence and support."

"We believe that Palm is in a position to transform the cell phone industry, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to make this additional investment in the company. Palm has an industry-leading team and an exciting, differentiated product roadmap. We are proud to be associated with the company and look forward to great things from Palm in 2009 and beyond," stated Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners.

The transaction is expected to close by January, 31, 2009. Palm also has the option to trigger a sell action by Elevation of up to $49 million dollars before March 31, 2009 to other investors under the same or better prices.

Read the full Palm press release...

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Going Live with BlackBerry

This is just a quick note to say that I plan on activating my BlackBerry Curve 8330 today.

There are a few reasons for deciding to turn on the BlackBerry now. The first is that after looking at Palm's new App Store, there is no need for testing on my Treo 755p; my Treo 750 is up to the task.

Secondly, if the rumors about Palm are true, it looks like the company could be on track to release a new device with the Nova operating system before the May/June 2009 time frame. I want to use the BlackBerry in between now and then. If Palm is going to deliver in the next quarter, I need to get going with the BlackBerry.

Sprint is still reporting that they are working with RIM on ironing out the kinks in the BlackBerry OS 4.5 upgrade. That means that I won't be able to use DataViz Documents To Go until the update has been certified by Sprint.

I'll post again once I have the BlackBerry activated for voice and data with the BlackBerry Internet service.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

2009 Will Be Apple's Last Appearance At MacWorld Expo

It looks like 2009 will be Apple's last appearance at the MacWorld Expo trade show.

For those not familiar with the MacWorld shows, they are not run by Apple. The shows are actually put on by the publisher of the MacWorld magazine.

Steve Jobs has always been a my way or the highway kind of guy, so I can see why the company has chosen to leave the show after the January 2009 event. Trade shows and magazines have become marginalized in the last few years. If you have been to a trade show or a user conference in the past, you understand the great educational and networking opportunities that can be had from such events.

As you might expect, the Mac magazine has a few articles posted on their website on the topic. I'll save you the time, the three articles are:
You can read the full Apple press release on the Apple website.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back from Vacation

What a difference a week makes! I returned home a few hours ago from sunny Orlando Florida to learn that Palm has been busy while my family and I have been lounging around the pool under sunny skies!

Be sure to check back later for a wrap up of the week's Palm news and analysis.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BlackBerry Curve Update

As you will recall, I purchased a Sprint edition BlackBerry Curve 8330. Smartphone Fanatics reader BaDZeD wrote me to ask how I was doing with the BlackBerry.

The short answer is that I'm not. I am a hardcore Palm OS user and if a device can't match the feature set of my Treo 755p, it just can't be my day-to-day device. There are a lot of things that I like about the Curve. They include things like a smaller footprint and weight; a full Qwerty keyboard, and ok PIM applications.

There are things that have kept me from adopting the BlackBerry. For one, the software on the device is BlackBerry OS 4.3, not 4.5 or later. Without BlackBerry OS 4.5, I can't run DataViz Documents To Go - an essential tool in my opinion. I'll also loose the ability to sync with my corporate calendar at the office. That isn't a big problem because I have access to Treo 700p at the office that I can use to sync my calendar to. (I won't need to bring that Treo home, I just want the calendar when I'm not in my office during the week.)

I'd also have to convert my corporate wireless email account from a Palm OS license to a BlackBerry license, but that isn't suppose to be hard process.

The latest word from Sprint is that the BlackBerry OS 4.5 upgrade for the Curve 8330 will be out during or after the week of 12/15/08, which is next week. We'll see. Sprint is had to push back the date a few times already.

I want to play with the BlackBerry, but until I have a plan to ensure I have access to all of my "stuff" I'll stick with my Treo 755p. Maybe I'll convert in January.

Thoughts?

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Astraware Board Games Available for iPhone/iPod touch


















Astraware Board Games is now available from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPod touch users. Astraware Board Games is a collection of eight classic board games including Chess, Backgammon, Ludo, Checkers, Reversi, Nine Men's Morris, Snakes & Ladders and Tic Tac Toe.

For the iPhone/iPod edition of Board Games, Astraware has applied some of the Apple special sauce to the mix to enhance the gaming experience not found on other mobile platforms. For example, players shake their device to shake the dice, touch and slide their piece to move it, and enjoy enhanced graphics that take advantage of the high-quality screen on the devices. In addition, players have the choice of playing against the CPU, against friends using "hotseat" multiplayer on one device, or against a friend on two separate devices using a local Wi-Fi connection.


















Astraware Board Games is available now from the Apple App Store and sells for $4.99. For more information about Board Games, or to see a short video of the game in action, head over to the Astraware website.

My kids love playing this game on my Palm Treo 755p. I know that they are going to enjoy it even more when they get to play against Dad on his iPod. I am definitely going to get this game for our upcoming family vacation.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bring on the "New-ness"















My Palm OCD meter has just hit the roof! Reports are coming into Smartphone Fanatics that Palm has sent out invitations to a special press event to be held during the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this coming January.

Based on the wording on the emailed invitation, the Palm community is brimming with excitement. The invitation reads, "Come to CES to see all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for."

That "New-ness" can only be Palm's next-generation operating system that I've been calling Palm OS II for years now; and that Palm has codenamed Nova. As many Smartphone Fanatics readers have pointed out in the past, Nova translates to "New" in some languages.

Palm fans have been waiting for the successor to Palm OS 5 literally for years and after all the waiting, it is clear that Colligan & Co. are about to make good on all their promises.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Rumor: 4GB iPhone Headed to Wal-Mart

I just saw this over on Barron's Tech Trader Daily website.
"Remember last week’s rumor that Wal-Mart (WMT) is about to start selling Apple (AAPL) iPhones?

Apparently, it’s true. Both Bloomberg and the San Jose Mercury News quote employees at various Wal-Mart stores saying they expect to start selling the phone before the end of the month, likely between Christmas and New Year’s Day - maybe sooner.

According to the Merc, Kim Nguyen, manager of the cell phone department at the Milpitas Wal-Mart, said she was told by an AT&T representative that her store would be getting a 4 GB model. She also said the store was supposed to get some iPhones two days before Christmas."

Via Tech Trader Daily...

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rumor: Is This the Next Palm Device

















Two weeks ago, in my 1SRC editorial, "It's Time for Something 'Nova'," I suggested that it might be time for Palm OS fans to get some love by way of unofficial info about Palm OS II/Nova and the hardware that it might run on. While this photo is far from evidence, scuttlebutt around the Internet seems to be that no one knows what this device is. According to Jenn K. Lee of Pocketables.com, the photo had a born on date of June 3.

With the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (January) and Mobile World Congress (February) just around the corner, it is anyone guess as to whether this is just one of the many prototype devices that gets built and never makes it to market or a vendor's next big device.

What has gotten attentive web heads, myself included, all worked up, is the stylistic design of the device. The jelly looking keys of this device just screams "Palm". Whether or not this is a Palm prototype device remains to be seen. If we stay focused on the keyboard for just a few minutes. If you zoom in on the keyboard, you can sort of make out the keys. Consider this: how often do keyboard formats differ from model to model? I don't think this is a RIM BlackBerry, nor is it Motorola, a Samsung, or HTC Touch.














What do you think this device might be? Is this a new Palm prototype device? Will it run Palm OS II/Nova? Or is this just another pipe dream that has been discarded in the wake of the iPhone and BlackBerry Storm? Let us know in the comments.

[Via pocketables.com...]
Thanks to the anonymous tipster who sent this in.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

1SRC Podcast 202



The latest 1SRC Podcast has gone up for your listening pleasure. On this week's show, I cover:


  • Yes, I bought a BlackBerry. Let's get back to the Palm stuff now.
  • Palm reports a very rough Q2FY09 , cuts expenses even more.
  • Make sure you check out what happens when " Santa Goes Cento ".
  • DataViz Documents To Go 11 Premium gets reviewed.
Listen to 1SRC Podcast 202 now...

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

RIM Updates Mobile BlackBerry Portal

I just read over at BlackBerryCool.com that RIM has relaunched their mobile BlackBerry web portal. The site is only accessible from the BlackBerry's web browser, unlike Palm's mobile portal that is accessible from the mobile or the desktop.

"I’ve just received word that RIM has completed a fairly significant relaunch of mobile.blackberry.com, their all-in-one web portal for BlackBerry users. The new mobile.blackberry.com features a much more user-friendly design, requiring fewer clicks to get where you want to go, as well as faster load times."

Screen shots available here...

[Via BlackBerryCool.com...]

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Palm Posts "Preliminary" Q2FY09 Results

Earlier today, Palm posted their preliminary second quarter earnings results for fiscal year 2009 (Q2FY09). When the dust settles on Q2, Palm is expecting quarterly revenues along the lines of $190-$195 million. This represents a decline from last quarter's results of $366.9 million that was reported on September 18, 2008. Palm sites the "reduced demand for maturing smartphone and handheld products" and the "difficult economic environment" as the reasons for the decline.
"We are seeing unprecedented dynamics in the global markets as economic uncertainty hampers demand for consumer products," said Ed Colligan, Palm's president and chief executive officer. "In order to ensure Palm's long-term success during these uncertain times, we're taking several steps to significantly reduce our cost structure. These measures will help us navigate this difficult period while launching our next-generation products as planned."

Today's report also details several efforts that Palm has implemented in attempt to keep operating expenses down; including:
  • Reductions to the U.S. work force
  • Consolidation of European operations
  • Collapsing sales, marketing, & administrative support for the AsiaPac region to the US office
Palm will present their final Q2FY09 numbers during a quarterly earnings results conference call which is scheduled for December 18, 2008 to be held at 1:30pm PT/4:30pm ET. Details for the conference call can be found on Palm's Investor Relations website.

Analysis

As you will recall, Palm is some 18+ months into a corporate transformation that the company hopes will make it a relevant player in the mobile computing space again. To aid in the transformation, Palm has partnered with private equity firm Elevation Partners.

The current global economic conditions aside, Palm appears to be dealing with issues around delays in the release of their next Windows Mobile-powered smartphone(s), which is rumored to be a CDMA version of the GSM Treo Pro, released earlier this year without a carrier partner, for Sprint and/or Verizon. I have not read any credible rumors that suggest Palm is working to release an AT&T branded edition of the Treo Pro before the end of the year.

Palm is also still working to complete the development of their next generation operating system, Palm OS II/Nova. According to company executives, Palm is on track to complete the core of Palm OS II/Nova by the end of this year and expects to have devices shipping to customers by the middle of 2009.

Palm's stock was down -$0.51 to end the day at $1.88.

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