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Carl Ford
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Smart devices

Apple vs. Palm Heats up.

June 11, 2009

Top Dog iPhone has gotten into a price war and the pr noise does not add up right to me at all.

First of all estimates are that the Palm PRE has sold less that 200,000 units, which is pretty amazing since the inventory is not there.  Go into any Sprint Store and you can hold one, talk about but you are told to go the web for documentation.

Mind you ATT did not do much better at supporting the iPhone when it came out.  The marketing power was all in hands of Apple. 

So the price drop did not make much sense to me, after all Apple was keeping the price high deliberately for awhile and blackberry was not acting like a spoiler either.  And of course the gPhone is still catching up to them.

So is the Palm Pre that good that is warrants a price drop? 

I think Jon Rubenstein's departure may be more likely reason for the drop.  Trendy people everywhere are pausing to think about the implications.  And there is always a desire for new embedded in trends.

Right now we are in a phase where the original iPhones are going up for a contract, and many people I know claim they are keeping the phone as an iTouch but switching to another service.

So is Sprint's ability to steal customers at this moment as threatening as it sounds.  I think the next two quarters should be interesting.  And as a man who owned palm pilots and handsprings for years, I am interested in the software side.

Ultimately a phone is a phone, the smart side is the soft side.




http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124466941773303621.html




















Dear Apple, Calm down.

June 16, 2009

The new iPhone 3GS has been declared sold out by Apple as it continues to take orders.  Perhaps they have adopted the record industry method of counting retail inventory as sold rather than available.  Whatever is going on its a very disturbing methodology and perhaps is an over reaction to Rubenstein's defection to Palm. 

The company has been so good for so long making it look like Steve was in total control, the fact that the emperor's clothes are fraying right now is disturbing.

Everyone likes the new price points.  I myself and thinking of expanding my owner ship of Apple gear, (though my Linux gear is non-existent right now and Ubuntu would give me access to some interesting mobile OS strategies.)

But the issue is that Wall Street is playing with stock based on the chatter.  Watching CNBC I have gotten Apple advise every fifteen minutes (or at least it has felt that way).

I want to buy technology for its value to me, not based on artificial stock manipulation.  And as we know from Kramer's past, Apple is a darling to play with.  I am hoping that the noise out of Cupertino calms down soon.













New Phones Apple pushes the competition around

June 23, 2009

Last week the iPhone 3GS was announced and Apple says they sold 1M. 

Comparing that to Sprint's PalmPre and T-Mobile G2 announcement its a winner.  However, Apple's efforts to steal the thunder obviously succeeded.

Having said that the front end loading has been pretty annoying.  Apple basically did not let those of us who had minor needs into the store in some areas they were so busy selling the 3GS.

Myself, I continue to try to recuperate from the disaster of losing my machine.  Having gotten different support from the Genius bar and the Apple Care line, I continue to find Apple a back end system disaster.

Call your cell phone operator and they have your history.  Call Apple its like your are a new customer every time.

Which make sense given any problem I talk to them about generates a reset.

For the Apple lovers of the world.  You are right to love their interfaces.  You can even love their customer care.  I do not.

One company they are not pushing around is RIM.  My next post will be why RIM is the real gorilla in the room.















Twenty Reasons to like RIM over Apple

June 23, 2009

Anton Wahlman, a good friend, who helps focus money and hedge bets, sent me this note.    

1.      Blackberry is a fully encrypted military-grade secure platform,
with 100% market share at FBI, CIA, White House, Congress, Department
of Defense, major consultancies and major investment banks.  There has
never been a virus or security breach on a Blackberry.  iPhone is
filled with security vulnerabilities.





Best Buy Gets Smart about Mobile

June 25, 2009

Yesterday, Scott and I were busy traveling to meetings in the city with companies in three separate sections of town.  At one point we past the Best Buy Mobile store at Union Square.  I wanted to jump in, but we were in a time crunch.

If you read the press release of the Best Buys earnings you discover that smart phones are pretty profitable for the retailer.  So much so they intend to add another fifteen stores under the Best Buy Mobile broad.

And its not just smart phones they want to display there but netbooks as well.

At the retail level the term Mobile Internet Device [MID] seems to be missing.

It maybe that with the advent of certified WiMAX rolling out this fall, the term MID starts to catch on.  Talking to Ari Zoldan yesterday, I was impressed with some of the devices solutions he was offering that was carrier independent.

I don't think this is the place where Best Buy makes its margins, I think they are somewhat carrier dependent for the margins on the smart phones.   So it will be interesting to see what kind of bundles start to happen with the netbooks.

I purchased a netbook separately from the Verizon MiFi from Novatel.  But and the HP Verizon bundle may have value to others.

Bottom line though is the Wireless Internet market is about to explode and it should be fun to watch.













Devices What Catches your Eye!

July 9, 2009

I walked over to Best Buy with Rich Tehrani, as a result of the 99 cent promo for a Compaq netbook with Sprint service.  Counting the floor model which had to be initialized while we talked, they had 2 in the place and no one seemed that particularly interested in selling them. 

"Tell me about the service?", was responded to with that the Mobile department. 

"So is the chip embedded or do you need to use the USB?"  once again the mobile department.

Saw a mobile person I am on break was the reply.

Ah, the joys of Retail.

But the engine is selling machines's Asus just reported a 49% increase in sales over last month which 34% Year of Year.

And i get the alert that T-Mobile was pre-selling the next Gphone.  Which I obviously need.

Its embarassing watching Rich try to like my Gphone.  He just got the iPhone 3GS and it is improvement and he loves it.  I pointed out that his VZ device was his prior method of surfing and he told me the Iphone had taken over for him.

For me the Gphone is still the right tool.  My big issue is getting my data from my gmail account and the synchronization between my contact needs in gmail and gphone is pretty good.

Mind you I could give you a list of improvements I want.
Support for .vcf on the Gphone, better dialing functions from email (like Peter Kalmstrom did for Skype), better linkage to the calendering function as well.

But given i am now on a mac, gave up on mac as a trusted place to put the address book, I feel safer in the cloud then on the device and that makes Google my choice.

In the anecdotal observation mode, I still have yet to find a MobileMe advocate.  Power users on the iphone are still all about the device.

Mind you the tools continue to improve on the iPhone, the latest commercial with the video edit I think is a good sales tool for the youtube fanatics of this world.

After all its a visual world, and when LTE comes along i think that will be the story.


























Apple vs. Palm Part 2.0

July 16, 2009

It's official Apple has proven themselves to be just one more brick in the walled garden.

Apple provided their equivalent of the Carterphone decision was needed when they blocked the PalmPre from using Itunes.  In other words, it was okay to let people on windows use it, but not for them to have it.

Very interesting.

We are definitely in a new phase.  This reminds me of when all the wanna-bes wanted to attach to AIM and both sides had teams of developers.
Eventually of course the problem was no longer that interesting.

Legally, Apple has the right to do what it wants.  Its a free software package.

The questions is does that show them as a good partner to the companies who look to make revenue from the downloads.

Is this an opportunity for Limewire to support the legitimate revenue models?
It should be interesting to see what happens.













Samsung Selling Mondi MID for Clear WiMAX, $449 Unlocked

July 22, 2009

When we told you this morning that the Samsung Mondi MID was going to be available soon, we didn't know that soon means now! After chatting with Samsung's Kim Titus, he told us the device is available now in an unlocked format directly from Samsung for $449 ($454.94 with shipping). And on Aug. 1, Titus said the Mondi will also be available in Clear stores and Best Buy locations in all live Clearwire markets (Baltimore, Portland, Ore., Atlanta and Las Vegas), at the $449 unlocked price as well as a $349 option with a two-year Clear contract.

We played around with the device a bit at the Clearwire Las Vegas launch event, and were impressed how well the touch-screen and software keyboard works. There is a hard keyboard too.

New marketing message comes through loud and 'Clear' in Vegas

July 23, 2009

Our quick impression from a full day and a half spent inside the Clearwire bubble, at the company's "official" market-launching event in Las Vegas on July 21: The nascent national WiMAX-providing company seems well past its sometimes-confusing stumbles of 2008 and into full execution mode, showing it can put on a confident, coherent local event even as its overall marketing, pricing and demographic messages remain somewhat a work in progress.



The ability to stage a fairly seamless, fun and informative day on the small stage of Las Vegas still doesn't answer how Clearwire will fare when it takes on the bigger challenges of market launches in places like Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia, which still lie ahead on the company's ambitious 2009 rollout schedule. But embedded within the Vegas-flavored parts of Tuesday's proceedings were some new, strong marketing messages, which, if coupled with continued execution on the networking side of things, should bring cheer to Clearwire investors, partners and customers as the WiMAX express rolls onward.

While we'll dive deeper into some of the proceedings and interviews we conducted during the event in later posts and reports, Clearwire followers should remember the line "more for less," which we heard quite often Tuesday and will likely hear again and again at subsequent launches. Until now, a big problem with Clearwire's WiMAX offering has been that the company itself didn't know how to best position it -- how exactly do you best pitch a service that delivers wireline-like broadband with the mobility of a cell phone? Before the Vegas event, you could and often would get different answers depending on which Clearwire executive you spoke to.

Tuesday, several different executives all seemed to be "on message" with the cost-saving idea, making it pretty obvious to anyone listening that Clearwire's promise was mainly about giving you more of what you need -- mainly Internet access -- for less.







Verizon WIreless says the Future is Open

July 28, 2009

Lowell McAdam, President & CEO of Verizon Wireless open the conference talking about the future is open.

Here they are talking about being the carrier of choice for apps.  Verizon Wireless mission is to win the application developers need for a reliable network and they see a vision where HD video fits comfortably in the platform that LTE provides. 

Speaking about the SUN Java conference, McAdam shared the view that developers think beyond the traditional view of cell phone.

Billing and network services such as location are being offered in the Network API that is being rolled out here, today.

John Stratton EVP & CMO, then shared the reset of development with Verizon.  

He made clear that the move was to Java while still supporting the history of Brew.  However, Java is a platform with an open community and the goal is to support all sorts of developers.  The Verizon plan is to provide over 70% of the revenue to the developer and to provide the ability to launch on their app store in 14 days.

The App store is not aimed at an SDK but a toolset that brings the Verizon's support services to the application



















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