Archive for June, 2008

Nokia buys Symbian, opens fire on Android, Windows Mobile and iPhone

Nokia buys Symbian, opens fire on Android, Windows Mobile and iPhoneThe boldest moves are made from a position of strength, not when the chips are down and you’ve very little to lose. Nokia’s decision, announced today, to acquire the remaining 52 per cent of Symbian it doesn’t already own and make the mobile platform open source, is bold to say the least.

Symbian unified platform: UIQ, S60The ambition, says Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, is to create “the most attractive platform for mobile innovation and drive the development of new and compelling web-enabled applications.”

To achieve this, Nokia will join other industry players, initially AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone, to form the non-profit Symbian Foundation, although any company can join.

Together the foundation will unify the Symbian OS with its various competing User Interface layers – primarily Nokia’s S60 and Motorola and Sony Ericsson’s UIQ – into a single open platform for “converged mobile devices”. The new foundation, in which Nokia has the biggest seat since it will swallow up all of Symbian’s current employees, will oversee the process of releasing the new OS under the Eclipse Public License (EPL) 1.0 open source license – a transition that will take two years – and become its long-term custodian.

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Win a Roku Netflix set-top box!

Win a Roku Netflix set-top-box!This isn’t a last100 give-away — we haven’t even got our hands on a review unit yet — but our friend Dan Rayburn over at Streaming Media is parting company with the new Netflix set-top box from Roku.

Also see: Roku delivers first Netflix set-top box

To be in with a chance to win it, all you have to do is leave one comment on Dan’s original post with a working e-mail address. He’ll pick a random winner this Thursday and ship it out at no cost. (Sorry, U.S. residents only). The unit comes with all of the original materials, box, remote and cables, but since it only works with Netflix’s service, you’ll either need to be a Netflix customer, or need to be willing to setup a Netflix account.

As an aside, Anthony Wood, the Founder and CEO of Roku will be one of the keynote speakers at the Streaming Media West show in September in San Jose.

Stream or download more than 200 tennis matches through Wimbledon Live

wimbledon logoAs all tennis buffs know, Wimbledon 2008 started today. And as all tennis buffs know, finding matches to watch live that are not top seeds can be difficult. Tourament organizers know this, and that’s why they’ve introduced the Wimbledon Live service.

For a flat fee of $24.99 (approx. £12.65) tennis fans can stream live matches to their PCs (Mac and Linux are not supported) or download up to 250 matches in the .wmv format after the match is complete. It’s a great way to catch matches that may, or may not, be broadcast on the TSN and NBC networks.

If you only care to watch a particular matchup (schedule), a day pass is also available for $9.99 (FAQ). Dale Dietrich of The Daleisphere has a nice rundown of Wimbledon Live.

Here’s the essentials:

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Nokia purchases Plazes, a location-based social networking service

plazes logoBuried in Bob Iannucci’s discussion at Supernova 2008 last week was this comment: “Connecting people only through voice communications is limited,” the Nokia chief technical officer said.

To me, that sums up everything Nokia is doing, including today’s announcement. Nokia, the world’s largest handset manufacturer, is purchasing Plazes, the location-based social networking service that’s based in Berlin with all of 13 employees.

Plazes, founded in 2005, lets people alert their friends about what they are doing and where they are — sort of Twitter and Loopt rolled into one. Users can subscribe to their friends, a group of friends, or to specific locations known as “Plazes.”

Updates can be done via, by mobile phone and text messaging, or by a number of third-party applications using the Plazes’ API. And, we can expect, Plazes will be on millions of Nokia phones worldwide as soon as possible.

nokia logo“Nokia is a perfect partner for us because they share our product vision and have the muscle to bring locative presence to hundreds of millions of people all over the world,” the Plazes team writes on its blog. “What better partner than Nokia for exploring innovative ways of connecting people?”

With Plazes and other recent acquisitions, Nokia is clearly connecting people through location-based services, maps, music communities, gaming, and — almost forgot — voice.

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No surprise, Gphone reportedly delayed

According to the Wall Street Journal, mobile phones powered by the Google-led Android platform – the so-called GPhone – are unlikely to see the light of day until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest or, more likely, early next year. Perhaps not all that surprising considering that Google elected not to build its own hardware, and instead is working with over 30 partners to bring Android-based handsets to market.

The reasons given for the delay are plenty:

  • The operating system is still a ‘work in progress’, with the various partners continually lobbying for additional features. “This is where the pain happens,” says Android chief Andy Rubin.
  • Carriers need time to customize Android with their own branded services and User Interface, rather than sticking with Google’s own suite of applications.
  • At the same time, developers are complaining that it’s difficult to write for Android since Google has yet to lock down its own development.
  • China Mobile is said to be having trouble translating the Android software from Roman characters into Chinese.
  • Additionally, it’s claimed that, in a push to help T-Mobile deliver on its promise of getting an Android-powered phone out the door before the year is up, Google has been unable to provide the needed resources to competing networks.

All of the above paints a pretty bumpy road ahead for the GPhone, at least in the short term.

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Podcast: RWW Live episode 2 (3G iPhone and more)

Last month ReadWriteTalk (a regular podcast in which the show’s host Sean Ammirati talks to “The People Behind The Web”) launched a new bi-weekly feature called RWW Live. The idea is to get together a number of writers from the ReadWriteWeb blog network (that includes last100!) for a live discussion on recent events in the technology world.

In episode two, I join Richard MacManus, editor and founder of ReadWriteWeb, Charles Knight from Alt Search Engines, and ReadWriteTalk host, Sean Ammirati, to discuss a number of big events over the last week including:

  • 3G iPhone
  • New Approaches by the Alternative Search Engines & a plug by Charles for his new favorite Alt Search Engine – Tag Galaxy
  • The Future of Yahoo!

You can listen to the whole show here.

Weekly wrapup, 16-20 June 2008 (Supernova edition)

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Supernova coverage

Last100’s Dan Langendorf reported from the Supernova conference in San Francisco this week.

@Supernova: Getting a glimpse of mobile’s future without the iPhone and Android

First up, Dan picked up on one theme in the Mobile space that is likely to become increasingly important: mobile sensors. He writes, “What’s coming is life profound. Put billions of sensors in cell phones – regardless of hardware, operating system, or carrier – and affect the way we understand traffic or the weather.”

@Supernova: Evidence developers are just as interested in Blackberry as they are iPhone, Android

Despite Apple’s iPhone and the upcoming Google-led Android platform grabbing all the hype, developer interest in RIM’s Blackberry was on show at Supernova, largely because of its established user base. “There used to be a saying that nobody was going to be fired for buying IBM, at least in software,” said Peter Nofelt, one of the developers of the zombie-themed, social game MobileDead. “It’s the same thing for the Blackberry”.

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Hulu update: Days of Summer, adding more viewers, Stewart and Colbert

hulu days of summerThere is a reason they call it the dog days of summer. It’s hot. TV is all repeats. Except for blockbuster weekends like Memorial Day and July 4, summer movie releases can be pretty bad. The kids, off school, even get bored watching YouTube.

Hulu, the increasingly popular online video venture brought to you by NBC and Fox, is fighting the dog days of summer with Hulu Days of Summer, introduced this week. From now until mid-August, Hulu will release a “premiere” program each weekday, hoping to entice viewers to drop by to see what’s new.

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MSN Music DRM servers get three year stay of execution

MSN Music DRM servers get three year stay of executionIn a classic DRM U-turn, customers of Microsoft’s now-defunct MSN Music store are being given at least three more years in which they can be sure that the music they’ve purchased will continue to play, even after an operating system re-install or upgrade, and when transfered to a compatible device. That’s because the company, having weathered a storm of negative PR and complaints from customers, has relented on its decision to shut down the service’s verification servers used to implement that store’s copy-protection technology.

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Seesmic to release bi-directional mobile client in four to six weeks

seesmic mascotThere’s a lot to like about Seesmic, the so-called video equivalent of Twitter, besides the charismatic founder Loic Le Meur, “in cloud” talent like Sukhjit and Giselle, and the people you meet “face-to-face” through video posting and commenting.

But there is one thing not to like: the lack of take-it-with-you mobility. To use Seesmic you’re mostly tethered to a desktop or laptop computer with a Webcam. You can use a cell-phone workaround like Shozu, but it can be cumbersome, working for some, not for others. Many people are hyper-mobile and participating in Seesmic is difficult, at least during the day.

This is all about to change. Over the next four to six weeks, Le Meur said following the Supernova conference, Seesmic will release its own bi-directional client for the Nokia series-60 phones including the N95. A hack for the iPhone 3G (jailbreaking it) will soon follow, as will a client for phones running Windows Mobile (and, it can be assumed, Android when they become available).

“In a few weeks we will have our own mobile client, which will let you have a full Seesmic experience,” Le Meur said.

The full Seesmic experience includes a two-way conversation. You record and upload video posts to the Seesmic Website (as well as other leading video sharing sites like YouTube and social network sites like MySpace and Facebook) that others can follow like Twitter. The community, including friends and strangers from all around the world, can comment on your post, and you on their’s.

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