Archives: December 2010

My Mobile Gadget Journey Through 2010

There was much about 2010 that left a lot to be desired. But, it was a very good year for gadget fans. I started out 2010 using an HTC Touch Pro2 (Windows Mobile 6.1) as my main voice phone. The iPhone 3G was my main data phone (having never upgraded to the 3GS) and I had just started re-experimenting with Android in the form of the Motorola Droid in November.

In the photo to the left, you can see the iPhone 3G & 4 in the top row. The Droid, Nexus One, HTC Touch Pro2, and HTC HD7 are left to right in the bottom row.

The Touch Pro2 was retired as my main voice phone in favor of the Nexus One after the Android OS 2.1 upgrade which finally provided a decent and usable Bluetooth stack for hands free operation. The HTC HD7 (Windows Mobile 7) replaced the Nexus One as my main voice phone in November. Apple released the iPhone 4 during the summer which replaced the aging 3G which had become a slug of a phone with the iOS 4 upgrade. The Moto Droid has become sidelined over the months. I rarely use it anymore. And, unless Verizon gets the iPhone, I’ll probably turn off my Verizon account and retire the Droid. Like the now SIM-less Nexus One, the Droid could become an iPod touch-like WiFi only email/web browsing device.

Apple’s iPad appeared in April and changed the way I worked worked. It actually replaced the Asus Eee PC T1000HA netbook running Windows 7 that had been my main mobile work device for over a year. You can see the Asus Eee PC T1000HA in the bottom of the photo to the left under the MacBook Air. An iPad and Apple Wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard was my netbook replacement combo between April and October when the redesigned MacBook Air appeared. The MacBook Air’s near instant on and resume from sleep combined with its more powerful OS X platform and accompanying apps redefined the netbook experience for me (even though Apple doesn’t consider it a netbook). And, I now find myself bouncing between the iPad and MacBook Air depending on what I need to do.

I skipped the entire Android tablet scene so far because I believe that everything released in 2010 was simple a trial run much like all the Android phones prior to the Motorola Droid were, in my opinion, beta test-like releases. I expect to jump into the Android tablet scene sometime in 2011.

2011 should be another great year for mobile devices. Apple should introduce its 5th generation iPhone. And, it might even be available through Verizon in the U.S. The 2nd generation iPad should make its way out the door too. Then, there’s the various “other” platforms from HP, Palm, and Microsoft that should find their way into various tablet-like devices. Windows Phone users are waiting for a major firmware update of some kind. And, let’s hope that Windows Phone devices with front-facing cameras and support for Bluetooth keyboards appear too. Finally, Android 3.0 based phones and tablets should appear sometime in 2011.

I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year! See you back here in 2011!

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Looking Forward To Mobile Tech In 2011

As I sit here during the afternoon on the last day of 2010, I am wondering what 2011 will have in store for mobile technology. Rather than making predictions that are likely not to be true, I have a number of questions that I am curious about whether they will be answered this coming year.

Will Windows Phone 7 be a success? If you read my post about the mobile tech highs of 2010, you might have wondered why the Windows Phone 7 launch was not on my list. It’s not included because in my mind the launch is not complete. After Windows Phone 7 is on all U.S. carriers will we be able to see how it competes. My definition of success for Windows Phone is that it is a serious part of the smartphone discussion at the end of 2011.

Will the next iPhone have a different antenna design? Apple’s handling of the iPhone 4′s antenna issues was a low point for Apple in 2010. Apple has not admitted that the iPhone 4′s antenna design is flawed, but the real proof will be whether the next iPhone retains the antenna design.

Will a serious competitor emerge for the iPad? Before the iPad was even officially announced companies were saying that they too would be selling a tablet. Despite all of the announcements, and the release of a few Android-based tablets, nobody has produced a serious competitor for the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the closest, but does not have a WiFi only model and therefore I don’t think competes well against the WiFi only iPad. HP is developing a webOS tablet, Microsoft is sure to have tablet announcements at CES, and Google is targeting Android 3 for tablets, but will we see real product early enough in 2011 to make a real run at iPad sales?

Will prices for wireless data come down? If tablets are going to be used everywhere, they need more than WiFi. In my opinion, for tablets to be a true success carriers need to provide data services for them at affordable prices with reasonable data caps. 200 MB for $20/month or less is not a realistic plan for tablets, I am looking for at least 5 GB for $20/month. Oh, and caps on 4G plans need to be higher than 5 GB.

Will the FCC’s net neutrality rulings stick? The year ended with the FCC’s disappointing no-action on mobile net neutrality, but as a package the FCC’s rulings are sure to be challenged in court and probably in Congress. I am curious about whether 2011 will end with the rules as they exist today.

Will we see consolidation of smartphone platforms? iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone, and Meego, do we really need this many smartphone platforms? I don’t think so, but each one is owned by companies who are committed to its success. At some point I think several of the platforms need to go away, but I don’t know if we will see that happen in 2011.

WebNewser’s Top 10 Posts of 2010

No, mom, if everyone else was jumping off a bridge, we wouldn’t do it, too, because it might lead to serious injury or death. But no one will be hurt by revealing the top 10 WebNewser posts of 2010, by page views, so, without further ado:

10: CNBC.com Offers Marijuana & Money, April 20: a CNBC.com special report examining the marijuana industry in the United States from a business standpoint.

9: Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Twitter Guys’ Profile Actually About Ashton Kutcher, April 30, 2009: This oldie but goodie showed staying power, reporting that Twitter legend Ashton Kutcher profiled The Twitter GuysBiz Stone, Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and himself — for The 2009 Time 100.

8: Full Episodes of Conan O’Brien’s TBS Show to Stream Online, Nov. 4: Conan O’Brien‘s TeamCoco.com announced that full episodes of TBS’ Conan would be available online the day after they air on the cable channel.

7: Mythbusters‘ Kari Byron Talks New Media on the Morning Media Menu, Oct. 27: Kari Byron, one of the co-hosts of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, was the guest on Morning Media Menu, discussing her new show for The Science Channel, Head Rush.

6: ESPN Taking Time Warner Cable Carriage Negotiations Online, July 20: Disney and ESPN launched a Web site and pages on social-networking sites to call attention to the carriage dispute between the sports network and the cable operator.

Read more

Keypurr Fixes Landscape Bug

Earlier in the week I wrote about the Keypurr alternate on-screen keyboard for Android smartphones. In the post I wrote that the initial release had what I called a fatal flaw of not working in landscape. The developer contacted me to let me know that they had released an update that fixed the landscape problem, and today I installed the latest version in the Android Market. As you can see from the screen shot, Keypurr does now work in landscape.

My review of Keypurr has been on a Nexus One running Android 2.2, and I first just updated the app as indicated by the Android Market. The update, however, did not seem to take affect. I then uninstalled the keyboard app and reinstalled it and that finally seemed to work. If you running the first release of Keypurr you will want to first uninstall it before installing the new version.

Keypurr, which is regularly priced at $3.99, is now on sale until January 10, 2011 for $0.99 and you can find both the free trial and the paid version in the Android Market.

Most Popular Android Apps Of 2010 According To AppBrain

Alternate Android Market web site AppBrain has posted information that reveals what apps Android users were mosted interested about in 2010. Tops on their list of the search terms on the site is skype, followed by angry birds, live wallpaper, launcherpro, and root. The up roar on Twitter during the recent Skype outage revealed just how much the service is used, and Android users who are in that camp can use the official Skype app for instant messaging and voice calls.

AppBrain’s list of the top viewed apps somewhat mirrors the search terms, with Angry Birds the most viewed app on the site. (For some reason AppBrain doesn’t review downloads beyond 250,000.) Todd has written about the significance of the Android version of Android Birds, which has ads and is free. The list of most viewed Android apps also includes AppBrain App Market, Talking Tom Cat Free, and LauncherPro.

As you know, there are several different models of Android phones, and AppBrain shows the Samsung Galaxy S is the most popular model on their site, followed by the HTC Desire, HTC Evo 4G, Motorola Droid X, and HTC Droid Incredible.

5 Ways Twitter Can Instantly Make Your New Year's Eve Amazing

December 31 is a night to reflect on the past year. And with the explosion of social media in 2010, there’s no more appropriate way to ring in the new year than with Twitter. Whether you have plans or not, whether you’re old or young, there’s a well-earned place for tweets on this traditional party night. Here are five top ways that Twitter can trigger an upswing in your evening — in a flash. Read more

My 2010 Best Mobile Computing Device Category Co-Winners: Apple's iPad and MacBook Air for Revitalizing the Dead Tablet & Netbook Markets

In Technololgy Review’s article,

The Year in Mobile

writer Erica Naone claims that in 2010 Apple invented a new category of mobile device. I humbly disagree with that notion. Microsoft’s Tablet PC appeared a decade earlier. And, one could make the argument that Apple’s own Newton MessagePad appeared even earlier than that. Conceptually, Alan Kay’s Dynabook concept emerged in 1968. And, I’d argue that Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek prop designers had props that appeared close to our current concept of tablets in various forms way back in 1966.

Although Apple can’t take credit for inventing the tablet category, it did something ever more remarkable, in my opinion. It introduced not one but two products that each redefined what had been a dead or dying category: Tablets and Netbooks.

1. It succeeded where others had failed by re-inventing the tablet and creating the mega-successful iPad. In fact, Apple succeeded where Microsoft failed twice (so far) – the Tablet PC and UMPC.

2. Apple’s iPad somewhat unexpectedly destroyed the previosly strong netbook market momentum.

3. Then, Apple reinvented the netbook in the form of the 2010 version of the MacBook Air. This is all-the-more surprising for two reasons:
3.1. Earlier MacBook Air models could be considered to be a market failure.
3.2. The MacBook Air, at two to three times the cost of a typical netbook, is probably much more profitable per unit sold than netbooks which were probably generating low single digit percentage profit margins.

The MacBook Air not only revitalized the very category it had nearly destroyed with the iPad but also introduced a netbook-like device that is probably reasonably profitable.

It is for these reasons that in a year of many terrific mobile computer device releases, Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air are tied in my category of 2010 Best Mobile Computing Devices.