Archive for the ‘Comms’ Category

The Google phone is on its way: a checklist for success

The long-awaited Google phone will be announced next Tuesday, so says the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the rest of the Web. The phone, which features the first release of the Android operating system, will be available near the end of October.

Coincidentally, Google today showed off a fairly polished version of Android and its HTC-manufactured hardware at Google’s Developer Day conference in London. Check out the YouTube demo video for details.

The upcoming news conference and the nearing release date got me thinking about what I’d like to see in the first Google phone. What I want isn’t a wish list, per se, but more of a checklist.

Here goes.

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Android Developer Challenge winners appear polished, ready for sale

It looks like Google may have made the right move with the Android Developer Challenge after all.

The winners of the first developer challenge, announced this evening, appear polished, well thought out, and ready for the first Android-powered phones to hit the streets in the not-too-distant future.

The Android Developer Challenge provides yet another contrast to Apple and its iPhone. Apple announced a software developers kit (SDK) for the iPhone this spring and a few months later the first iPhone/iPod touch applications went on sale at the App Store July 11.

While many of the iPhone applications performed flawlessly, many felt rushed and suffered from buggy behavior. Subsequent releases worked out the kinks.

Google certainly has had its share of problems with the Android SDK and cranky developers, but these Android apps seem tight, well developed, and ready for sale. Of course, final judgment cannot be levied until we actually have working Android phones in our hands and these applications running.

Of the 50 applicants that emerged from Round 1 of the ADC, 10 were awarded $275,000 each for their efforts, with another 10 receiving $100,000 each. A complete listing of winners and entrants is here.

The $275,000 winners include:

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What's in a name? Google's announces the Android Market, not the Android Store

The choice of name says it all: Android Market, not Android Store.

By design, Google is preparing the equivalent of an open-air marketplace for applications that will run on Android-powered smartphones. Google, which announced the Market late this afternoon through its Android developer blog, believes that developers should have an “open and unobstructed environment to make their content available.”

It’s a stark contrast to Apple’s App Store, where developers must submit applications for approval before release. The process has miffed many developers because their iPhone and iPod touch programs may take days, or weeks, before they show up for sale in the App Store.

Like a market or bazaar, Android developers can show up, set up shop, and sell their wares hassle free. Developers can submit applications to the Market using three steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe the content, and publish it.

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Taking next step: NBA wants its teams to stream live local games

There’s an old adage in basketball that says you can’t be afraid to mix it up with the big boys under the basket. Clearly, the NBA is ready for a showdown with cable operators and regional sports networks.

In a first for any major U.S. sports league, the NBA wants to stream live games on the Internet in local markets. Yes, you read that right: local markets.

The NBA is hoping to secure deals with the league’s 30 teams and cable operators to broadcast local games live on the Web in time for the 2008-2009 season, which will be starting soon [via Sports Business Journal].

“We hope to have a model in place this season,” NBA general counsel Bill Koenig said. “We believe that if we can draw more people to the interactive features, it will help bring in new [fans] and keep [fans] for a longer period of time.”

Currently no major U.S. sports leagues streams live local games. Major League Baseball offers a streaming package for out-of-market games, and the National Football League will be streaming games broadcast by NBC this season.

Streaming live games, especially ones targeted at a local market, is one of the most volatile issues leagues face as teams are trying to broaden their reach and broadcasters want to protect the rights to some of their most expensive programming.

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Why Google should have developed its own Gphone

It’s been almost a year since I wrote “The Gphone is coming; how Google could rewrite the rules.” And during this time I’ve wanted to give Google the benefit of the doubt for choosing its Android strategy over developing the phone itself.

But I can’t. It’s the wrong strategy.

Whether the Google phone comes out in September, or later this year, or sometime in early 2009, it really doesn’t matter. All this bickering over supposed hardware delays, software issues, and hurt developer feelings has me wondering how Google would have fared if it had taken a different path and developed the Gphone on its own.

Why should Google do this?

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Surprise, surprise: Why I refuse to upgrade to iPhone 3G

I’ve had the money in my wallet since July 11, but I refuse to spend it on iPhone 3G. And this really, really surprises me.

As the second generation iPhone went on sale, I wrote down several concerns — or predications, depending on how you look at it — and waited a month for everything iPhone 3G to shake out. I wanted to use hindsight to tell me whether I made the right or wrong decision not to upgrade from the original iPhone.

So far, I have no regrets. And here’s why.

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Report: HTC's Android-powered "Google phone" may be delayed after all

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Developing a phone — even if it is just an operating system — is not something you do overnight with a bunch of cajoled software developers.

Just a week after High Tech Computer (HTC) said it was on schedule to deliver Android-powered cell phones by the 4Q of 2008, another report surfaces Thursday that says HTC is “having structural problems to incorporate Google’s demand feature set” and “demanding a guaranteed minimum revenue surety from Google,” according to Barron’s Tech Trader Daily.

Barron’s picked up a research note from Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research saying his “contacts” contend that HTC’s Android handset — the so-called Google phone — will be delayed until the first quarter of 2009.

Additionally, Chowdhry’s “contacts” tell him that another problem Google is having is attracting software developers to the platform. They’re too busy writing code for Windows Mobile, Nokia (Symbian), Research in Motion (BlackBerry), and Apple’s iPhone.

That’s no surprise. These guys actually have phones, real working phones, to develop for and test.

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Roundup: Apple still hasn't cleaned up its MobileMess

Not only has it been a rough two weeks since the disastrous introduction of MobileMe July 10-11, it’s been a miserable last three days for Apple and its “Exchange for the rest of us” product.

First, up, the Wall Street Journal

Well-known personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, a big fan of Apple products and services about 99.99 percent of the time, said in his first complete review of MobileMe on Wednesday:

“Unfortunately, after a week of intense testing of the service, I can’t recommend it, at least not in its current state. It’s a great idea, but, as of now, MobileMe has too many flaws to keep its promises.”

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Netflix is finally coming to Xbox 360, which is getting a dashboard makeover and Mii-like avatars

netflix xbox 360Long rumored, finally here. Netflix is coming to the Xbox 360.

Xbox 360 owners and Live Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers will be able to stream online movies to their consoles at no extra cost. Netflix is the world’s largest DVD rental service.

The Xbox becomes the only game system that lets users immediately watch movies and TV shows steamed from Netflix. Along with the existing Xbox LIVE Marketplace Video Store, the Xbox 360 has more access to movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV, according to Microsoft.

Xbox owners can also share Netflix movies with friends via Xbox LIVE party so you can watch “Super Bad” together. This will require an Xbox Gold LIVE account however.

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Google releases new Gtalk Web app; what does it mean?

gtalk on iphoneWhat does this mean? Google Talk for the iPhone.

Google announced Thursday that it has developed a new Web app version of Gtalk for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Just point Safari to and you’ll be launched into a much improved, albeit stripped down, interface. From there you can view contacts, send instant messages, update your status, and “go off the record” if you don’t want to store your chats in Gmail.

That’s fine and dandy. But in all honesty, Gtalk users — and users of any chat service — have wanted native chat clients for the iPhone since it debuted a little more than a year ago. More importantly, they don’t want to lose a chat connection when they switch from chat to answer the phone, to send a Tweet on Twitter, or browse the Web using Safari.

This is due to the fact that the iPhone cannot run more than one application at once, other than playing the iPod. Running more than one app at once also drains the battery.

Even so, many iPhone users have hoped that Apple will have solved this dilemma with the upcoming release of the iPhone 3G. For months they’ve been holding out that native chat applications are coming once the App Store opens in a week or two.

But is the new Gtalk Web app an indication that a dedicated client isn’t coming anytime soon — not just for Google Talk but for other chat services on the iPhone? Why would Google spend the time, money, and energy revamping its Web-based chat app if a native client is coming out in a week or two?

As it stands now, the new Gtalk Web app could be the slickest, greatest, most unbelievable chat solution for the iPhone and it still would be pretty useless. Nothing is more frustrating than engaging in a chat, answering the phone, losing the chat connection, then having to log in to chat all over again.

Do this more than a couple of times and you give up. No matter how good Gtalk for the iPhone is.