GPS and Bluetooth to soon come on one microchip

With space becoming an all-important thing in any cellphone these days, Bluetooth chipmaker CSR will soon introduce a single chip Bluetooth and GPS solution.

This is good news for wireless handset makers, who need to get as many functions on chips these days to save space for...well, nothing.

With handsets becoming so small and so slim these days, the space saved by eliminating chips from a cellphone probably won't be replaced by anything -- except less weight.

Sony Ericsson's new Bluetooth speaker system

Sony Ericsson's new Bluetooth Music Receiver MBR-100 can be used to stream music off wireless phones and onto an external set of wireless speakers, and the product should be available this year for $80.

The unit can be plugged into a stereo system as well (of course) so that the owner of a Sony Ericsson bluetooth-enabled handset can stream their music over a decent sound system. I guess plugging that cord into the stereo from the phone was too much of a hassle, eh?

It;s said that consumers are increasingly expected to move their music and video content from one listening environment to another without cables -- but from what I've seen, the process is not anywhere user-friendly enough in current iterations for mass consumption. It will get better, though. I hope.

A "Real" stereo Bluetooth headset released by Motorola

When looking for a stereo Bluetooth headset recently, I was amazed by the bulk and ugliness displayed by almost every unit I saw -- especially those by Motorola. In fact, If I have to wear something that looks like a head protector instead of a headset, I'll stick with wired earphones.

But alas, Motorola has announced a new MOTOACTV S9 stereo Bluetooth headset that actually looks pretty svelte and unobtrusive. You know, as opposed to a moon landing communications device. KUDOSMOTO.

[via Engadget Mobile]

Jabra doesn't just make "accessories", but Bluetooth headsets

I've used Jabra Bluetooth headsets in the past and have found them to be very innovative and comfortable, although I didn't use the devices long-term. When I hear the brand "Jabra", though, I think of Bluetooth headsets immediately.

Well, the company wants to rise above that designation at CES this year, and Jabra's marketing spin-meisters want to make sure the headsets is produces actually "complete the communications and entertainment experience ... making making them more "necessary" than "accessory."

In other words -- Jabra doesn't want to be included in the "cellular accessory" category any longer. Imagine that!

Another Nokia Internet tablet with built-in wireless

Now that the Nokia 770 has been on the market for quite some time now, the world's largest mobile phone maker has unveiled the new N800 Internet Tablet just yesterday at the CES show in Las Vegas as it hopes to keep customers interested in the "laptop supplement" product with built-in wireless (WiFi and Bluetooth at the moment).

In fact, Nokia said that it is working with VoIP provider Skype (part of eBay) to deliver mobile Internet services to Skype's 136 million users. Now -- that's a departure of significant proportions. The older 770 tablet did not have a "killer app" like this.

Allowing the Skype crowd to send and receive messages, voice and video calls and other things right from the N800 would be the main selling point for this product I believe. Just use the PC for PC tasks and the N800 for all your communications tasks using Skype -- or so Nokia hopes you believe.

Palm's Treo 750 unveiled at CES

Palm -- like Motorola -- seems to be milking the Treo line of phones for all they are worth, adding little upgrades, faster data speeds and essentially the same form factor as it has progressed from the 600 to the 650 to the 700 and now the 750.

The Palm Treo 750 will feature Windows Mobile 5 (of course) and will be a 5-band device (GSM/UMTS) which features Microsoft's "Direct Push" email capability to counter RIM's push email offering standard on all its phones.

The Treo 750 supports Cingular's 3G/UMTS network and will of course feature e-mail, messaging, Web browsing, organization software and up to 2GB of added memory via SD cards. And, it's available today from Cingular for $399.99 after a mail-in rebate and a signed a 2-year service agreement (as opposed to an unsigned agreement?).

Pointless Bluetooth suit unveiled by Washington group

After reading the details of this story, I have a feeling that the nonprofit group that represents Washington's universities will get anywhere with the lawsuit just announced against some of the larger makers of Bluetooth headsets here in the U.S.

The suit against Nokia, Samsung and Matsushita Electric over alleged infringement of Bluetooth patents developed at the University of Washington will be brought to court soon and could affect the sale of Bluetooth headsets across the U.S.


Merry Christmas to one and all!

We're taking a bit of a break to be with our loved ones over the holiday, and we hope you are too. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and we'd like to pass along a heartfelt "Thank You" for your readership. We'll be back posting again tomorrow once we can burn off some of the egg nog!

Helio lands Obopay as mobile commerce provider

Helio -- the flashy MVNO that markets to upper-crust teens and twenty-somethings -- has signed on to provide access to Obopay's mobile payment service to its customers, following a similar move earlier by rival amp'd mobile.

Obopay can be sued to perform several "money sharing" functions from a mobile handset, such as sharing money with friends and transferring funds using a mobile device -- as well as making physical payments at merchant sites.

If there is any demographic that is going to lead and create the space of mobile payments, it is the crowd that both Helio and amp'd mobile strive to land as customers.

Europe gives thumbs-up to UWB

Ultra wideband technology, which has sort of fallen by the wayside ever since the effort to define a single standard fell through a while back, may have gotten some much-needed momentum with the approval by the European Commission's Radio Spectrum Committee to allow UWB to be used on the continent.

Despite a number of issues raised by some groups who argue that UWB has the potential to interfere with other wireless services because it transmits low power over a wide band of spectrum, the EU says it will allow supporters and manufacturers of UWB-enabled products to move forward to eventually introduce it into the marketplace sometime next year.

Of course, after all of the battling to define a single standard, it remains to be seen if in the long run UWB can gain any sort of niche in the wireless arena. Even though the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has seen fit to align itself with UWB supporters, it may not be enough to sustain it over the long haul. But, we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

Nearly a third of kids swap music on their phones

Just when the music companies thought it could not be any worse, it is (and it should be). A new threat against music piracy battles is shaping up according to newer research from several companies -- and in a survey of nearly 1500 8-13 year olds, nearly a third (29%) admitted to sharing music illegally on their phones via Bluetooth.

Additionally, nearly half (45%) of the remaining respondents stating that they'd like to share music in this way. With Bluetooth becoming almost a standard feature on many phones, and with media card slots popping up on tons of phones these days, music sharing can be done over-the-air with friends -- no Internet needed.

TWR's Top 5

As the winter chill begins to set in, here are five sizzling hot stories from the past week brought to you by The Wireless Report. Enjoy!

  1. What is Palm doing now?
    Palm, the handheld operating system company that seems to not know where it is headed, has now paid Access Co. -- the Japanese outfit that bought the operating system from Palm -- to get access to the latest Palm operating system version, called Garnet.
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia hesitates on jumping into the muni WiFi fray
    City officials in Vancouver, British Columbia have been studying the possibility of developing and deploying a wireless network to its residents, but there are concerns that the project could end up costing the city up to $12 million, and some are not sure whether the project is worth the investment.
  3. Consumer Reports rates the top handsets and services from all carriers
    Consumer Reports has rated the top wireless carriers and their handset selections recently, and mobile operators Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel were somehow singled out as poor performers in this report. Now, honestly, I don't pay to much attention to Consumer Reports -- the reviews are almost always to vague, they don't rate what's important to many of us and the reviews are not comparative enough to be useful. But, the country pays attention and that is what counts here.
  4. New Jersey counties to conduct wireless network feasibility study
    The southern New Jersey counties of Gloucester and Camden said they will join together to conduct a feasibility study to see if a wireless network will be beneficial to their residents. The study is expected to cost $250,000, and officials from both regions say they will split the cost equally in order to have it done.
  5. Too much complexity in the mobile content space
    KISS -- Keep It Simple Stupid -- is a method for delivering content, ideas, products, marketing, messages and other things with little to no complexity so that consumers and business users can grasp the value of whatever the object it without going into deep specifics (which usually make eyes glaze over).

Samsung launches first HSDPA smartphone

In a move I have been waiting on for some time, Samsung finally released a Windows Mobile smartphone that operates on HSDPA 3G networks. With Samsung and others making higher-end smartphones for the CDMA EV-DO high-speed data marketplace, it's about time an HSDPA alternative came to market.

The Samsung i600 will only be available in Asian and European networks to start -- which is odd since Cingular here in the U.S. is rolling out its HSDPA network -- and the i600 will also work on WiFi networks and features Bluetooth 2.0. Talk about a bevy of wireless data options there. Whew. Except -- wasn't there a CDMA smartphone from Samsung with the model of i600 already? Faux-pas from Samsung here I think.

Qualcomm makes another acquisition

Qualcomm, ever on the buying spree, has purchased RF Micro's Bluetooth business for $39 million in cash. Qualcomm seeks to bolster its Bluetooth presence in handsets and possibly even integrate Bluetooth into its chips for mobile handsets soon as the short-range technology becomes very pervasive even in lower-end handsets these days.

Qualcomm said that the acquisition would provide seamless integration of related functions with enhanced performance, space savings and improved time-to-market for handset vendors. Qualcomm continues to look to the future apparently, as the company just announced the acquisition of Airgo (WLAN solutions) and now the Bluetooth business of a major vendor. Perhaps it can cram CDMA, EV-DO Rev. A, Bluetooth and WLAN into a single chip soon.

Mercora officially launches "M" over-the-air music library access

Mercora has launched its "M" service for accessing one's personal music library over-the-air from their mobile phone. The new "M" service will include new features like socially networked listening and 1-click access to Favorites.

Mercora's new service is designed to turn Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0-based smartphones and Pocket PCs into high-fidelity wireless music players, according to the company. While that severely limits the usefulness of the service -- as smartphones are not the majority of handsets these days -- the service will turn smartphones into portable, library-accessible music and media players -- if they are not already.

Mercora's "M" service offers over-the-air (OTA) access to a listener's music library; access to more than 100,000 commercial-free, dynamically programmed channels that are searchable by artist or genre; CD-quality sound through the implementation of a highly optimized version of an open source media encoder; and stereo Bluetooth support. Those are pretty impressive specs really.

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