Archive for February, 2010

VOD service Vudu to become Wal-Mart's child

vuduAfter rumors circulated in January that US retail giant Wal-Mart was eying the video-on-demand service Vudu, the New York Times is reporting that it’s a done deal. Still no official word from either company but Dan Rayburn via one of his sources says the ink has dried and that’s good enough for me. It’s also an interesting end to a pretty long story:

Vudu started as a feisty silicon valley startup, unfashionably entering the consumer hardware space with its own set-top and accompanying HD video download store. Whilst its offering received good reviews based on the UI, movies were relatively expensive, as was the box itself, and I was always skeptical that consumers in great numbers would pay for hardware just to enter the store. The Vudu box was a one trick pony, providing a store front to the company’s content, or that’s how it felt to me. Competing consumer set-top boxes seemed to offer a lot more.

Eventually, Vudu opened up a little, supporting services other than its own, and lowered the price of its entry level hardware, but that still didn’t seem to be cutting it.

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Hands-on review: 3's INQ Chat 3G – Twitter, Facebook, Skype and more

Picture 2Back in August, I was pretty bullish when Hutchison-owned INQ announced the INQ Chat 3G, a follow-up to the INQ1, the company’s so-called Facebook phone.

The updated device adopts a BlackBerry-esque form-factor in favor of the INQ1’s candybar, adding a full QWERTY keyboard to support a host of social messaging capabilities, including ‘push’ email (via Gmail), Facebook access, Instant Messaging through Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and a Twitter client that provides ‘always-on’ connectivity to the micro-messaging social network so that updates are pushed ’straight to the homescreen’.

That’s a lot of functionality for a fairly low-cost device – it retails for £99 on a pre-pay (PAYG) tariff on 3UK – leading me to describe the INQ Chat 3G as taking aim at overpriced QWERTY touting smartphones.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, however, that I actually got my hands on the phone. Read on for my thoughts…

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Intel and Nokia combine forces to battle Google Chrome, Android and Apple's iPad

meegologogmThey were already known to be sharing technology with regards to their separate Linux OS efforts but now Intel and Nokia are to merge their respective distributions.

Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo operating systems are to be combined into a new Linux-based OS called MeeGo that will target “multiple hardware platforms across a wide range of computing devices, including pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, mediaphones, connected TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems.”

Intel is desperate to get its chips into devices that aren’t a traditional PC and Nokia needs a viable and developer-friendly platform to replace Symbian as the latter moves further down into mass-market smart phones that in-turn are replacing feature phones.

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MWC: Symbian S^3 UI concept ticks all the right boxes!

S3The Symbian Foundation, the custodians of the Nokia-led open source mobile OS of the same name, has published a concept video showcasing the User Interface changes we can expect in version 3. The UI is seen as a major weakness of Symbian, especially as it transitions away from its S60 ‘scroll-and-click’ non-touch roots to something more finger-friendly. So how is Symbian S^3 shaping up?

Pretty darn good, if the video is to be believed.

The UI borrows plenty from the iPhone but also adds a splattering of Palm-esque app switching – similar to WebOS’ card view (see review) – as well as building on some of Nokia’s own UI ideas, such as the widgetized home screen we first saw on the N97. Only this time there are revolving homescreens – Android-style – so that a user can access many more widgets.

Check out the video after the jump…

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3's CEO talks iPad, the mobile network's 'perception problem', Spotify, and more

3logo3UK’s CEO talks about how the network is planning to address its ‘legacy perception problem’ and why bidding for the iPad would be like trying to sign a premiership footballer

I’ve just got back from a fascinating press briefing with mobile carrier 3UK’s CEO Kevin Russell and CTO Graham Baxter, billed as a discussion of the “themes, trends and challenges that will shape the mobile industry in the UK in 2010.” Although the subtext was something more along the lines of: how is 3 addressing what was described as its legacy perception problem.

People still, wrongly or rightly, often associate the network with poor coverage and/or service. This despite the fact that the network’s coverage and capacity has and is improving and that in my view 3 is one of the most, if not the most, innovative of the UK networks, especially on pricing, data services and positioning.

Here’s what I learnt during two presentations and the very frank Q&A that took place afterwards:

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