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Consumer Electronics

Metaswitch Thrutu iPhone App Lets Carriers Become Social Hubs

July 20, 2011

Earlier this year I came across Thrutu from Metaswitch newtorks - an application development platform allowing carriers to leverage rich social features and provide them as services to customers. In short, this is the exact sort of solution wireless phone companies need to try to keep their customers engaged and more importantly paying them.

Of even greater importance for service providers is being able to ensure that the contact database doesn't continue to get moved from the carrier cloud to the social cloud. By that I mean, consumers are relying more and more on Facebook and Twitter as their contact database making the carrier and the phones they sell less important.

Thrutu brings social features such as location, contact and photo sharing as well as prodding via a remote vibration (like Facebook's poke) and more via an API which developers can use to do much more.

I saw a demo of it working on Android phones and was impressed and as of this moment the company has released an iPhone version as well. As you may have guessed, you will be better off using such a service on a network voice and data can be shared such as GSM or in an area where there is WiFi and 3G/cellular.

Of course the question you have to ask is whether it is too late for carriers to basically reinvent social networks which are already dominated by the web giants we all know (and many love).







Off to San Jose, Interactive Airport ads and Boingo: I Love this Service

July 17, 2011

I flew out of JFK as was pretty amazed to see a new interactive ad format which consists of what you may consider to be a giant tablet on the wall allowing consumers to play games on it. I didn't get a chance to see the company behind the great idea but I did see engagement as there was one person on each of the ads I spied and people watching the person play.

Boingo set me up with an account years ago and even though I am not paying for it, I gladly would (please tell me the Boingo public relations doesn't work weekends  and read comments like this ).

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Boingo now works with GoGo Wireless - but you still have to pay extra to get access to internet while in-flight. Anyway - I didn't get charged and more importantly I didn't have to deal with the GoGo interface for logging on. I have found it to be a bit sluggish - I know, I am in a plane, what do I expect?



Ingenious New Ad Format Charges Phones

July 15, 2011



We've seen the pods in the airport which charge your devices - often sponsored by Samsung. But now the idea has gone to the next level with an ad in a bus shelter from Vitamin Water which has an outlet allowing you to plug in and get some juice while you wait for your public transportation.

I am sensing an opportunity for Starbucks and other restaurants and retailers to start offering charging sponsorships as well. Very cool. Picture is courtesy of Mashable.

I for one hope the food court in LaGuardia Airport gets into the game soon.





These New Sony Tablets Look Interesting

July 14, 2011

Dragon Go! Shows Speech Tech is Alive and Well

July 14, 2011

One of the most interesting mini-reviews I have done was with Dragon Go! from Nuance - an iPhone app which I found to be deadly accurate in my testing. Not only did it recognize my voice with a moderately loud air conditioning unit in the background, there were occasional interruptions courtesy of gadgets and fax machines all around TMC headquarters as I tested.

Here are examples of the tests I did - you can see, I couldn't trip it up. See for yourself how it went and how this app compares to similar ones from Bing and Google.

Since Chipotle Mexican Grill opened literally next-door to TMC's HQ, I had to try a search for nearby Chipotle restaurants.The first three results were dead on.



FlipIt! USB Charging Innovation Continues

July 13, 2011



I thought I had seen it all but today I came across the FlipIt USB Stealth Charger which utilizes power outlets already in use. Specifically it has a thin contact pad which rotates 270 degrees allowing the user to plug it into an outlet which has another plug in it at the same time.


It provides 1,000 mA or 1A of power at 5V which is double the amperage and power of a USB port and as a bonus can work with 100-240V power outlets making it a great addition to your travel kit. I have a high-speed Targus iPad charger which puts out 2.1A or more than twice the output of the FlipIT!




Top 5 Road Trip Apps

July 12, 2011

PSTN Death is Near

July 7, 2011

I vividly remember driving my car in 1999 – two years after the company where I am CEO, TMC decided to launch Internet Telephony Magazine and thinking VoIP was going to change the way communications works and eventually kill the PSTN. It seemed to me that within five years most of the world would make the transition as the cost disparity at the time was quite large between the PSTN and VoIP connections. Moreover, there were a myriad of free calling services using VoIP such as Dialpad which were ad supported, putting even more pressure on traditional telecom networks.

Within a few years the dotcom and telecom bubbles burst (we collectively said goodbye (details) to Dialpad and its competitors) and the cost for using the PSTN dropped substantially in order to better compete with IP communications alternatives.

Survey: Games Most Popular Smartphone Apps

July 6, 2011

And surprise, most people will pay for apps

Games, weather and social networking apps are where people are spending a tremendous amount of their time followed by mapping, news, music and entertainment. These are the results of a new survey from Nielsen which asks what apps people used in the last 30 days. iPhone users who are mobile gamers play about 30 minutes per day on average or 14.7 hours per month while Android users play 9.3 hours per month.

Nielsen supplied chart of apps which smartphone users have downloaded in the last 30 days


While we see mega deals in the video game world for titles like Angry Birds and social companies like Zynga preparing for multi-billion dollar IPOs - let's keep in mind part of the reason for this is that everyone it seems will pay for games on their phones. Consider in fact Nielsen found 93 percent of app downloaders are willing to pay for the games they play.






Cell Phones Now Pose no Cancer Risk

July 5, 2011

The studies go back and forth and a few weeks ago the World Health Organization or WHO said there was an increased cancer risk as a result of cell phone use. Now, another study says the opposite is true.

The review was conducted by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Standing Committee on Epidemiology* chaired by Professor Anthony Swerdlow from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). The ICNIRP committee analyzed all published studies that have examined whether there is a link between mobile phone use and the main types of brain tumour, glioma and meningioma and determined that although there is some uncertainty, there is no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in adults.

The professor and his team analyzed data from thirteen countries going back 10-20 years.

We live in a world full of radio signals - a typical tech trade show for example could have dozens if not hundreds of WiFi access points. Add to that satellite, FM and myriad other radio signals coursing through our bodies at all times and you have to wonder if the addition of one more radio emitter near our heads will have any major effect on our likelihood of getting cancer.





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