Windows Mobile smartphones are multiplying

It seems there are a billion smartphones and Pocket PC phones (remember, two different OSes there) running on Windows Mobile.

Years ago, the Palm OS seemed to be a 'favorite' in the wireless handset world -- that mantra, though, is up between Windows Mobile and Symbian now in a "Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed" style of fight.

With that, check out a review of the new "Hermes" Pocket PC device (from HTC, of course) over at MobileBurn.

'Palm OS' is no more -- Access renames to 'Garnet'

The venerable "Palm OS" is no longer going to be called "Palm" in any way, as Access, Ltd. -- the company that bought the Palm OS some time ago -- will be renaming the mobile operating system "Garnet".

Why Garnet? Probably because that was the codename for the latest version of the rapidly-aging operating system (I guess). Want "Garnet" in your new smartphone? You can soon get it. Or not.

Wireless data speeds -- who is the fastest?

When testing speed recently among the four wireless carriers in my area -- Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel and Alltel -- I used a phone from each carrier with a subscription to a data plan as well (for laptops) to give as equalized a result as possible.

So, which carrier turned in the performance to the right? Let me state that Cingular and T-Mobile both offer EDGE speeds in my market (no HSDPA yet), and both Alltel and Sprint Nextel offer EV-DO speeds in my. Not sure about testing HSDPA speeds since Cingular has not rolled that out yet in my market.

The winner? Sprint Nextel's data speeds were the fastest (17% faster than Alltel and about 600% faster than both EDGE systems) -- as I received almost a megabit if DL speeds on the Sprint EV-DO network, with a little over 1/10 of a megabit in UL speeds.

Terrorist threat shuts down Moscow wireless network

The Moscow underground saw a disruption of mobile phone services this week after several warnings of possible terrorist attacks were issued from the country's security services.

Russian mobile carriers MTS, VimpelCom and Megafon suspended services in Moscow's underground railway system, but declined to explain why. However, company representatives unofficially stated that the move was connected to a possible terrorist threat.

T-Mobile takes top spot in VocalLabs customer service survey

When customer service surveys come from the established industry players these days, one that counts significantly is the customer service quality of mobile carriers, since most customers think of wireless service providers as near the bottom of the barrel, along with car salesman (according to reports).

Well, Vocal Laboratories' recent survey of quality of customer service among the largest wireless phone companies had T-Mobile as the overall winner, with Verizon Wireless being close behind.

Cingular remained in third place -- while improving -- and Sprint Sprint improved from "D" scores in both categories to "C"s -- but remained in last place.

Sprint and TeleNav demo mobile traffic application at CES

With the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas right now, there are over a hundred thousand new people that have been unleashed on the city -- and finding your way to where you need to go can be a mess in a crazy mish-mash of people like that.

No fear - GPS firms are everywhere this week at CES touting their hardware and software solutions. In fact, mobile carrier Sprint Nextel and partner TeleNav announced a GPS navigation service at the start of CES that features traffic rerouting features on a phone.

Now, for those of you that live in high-traffic areas with cabs-a-plenty, this may be a lifesaver. TeleNav's president says that the system keeps tabs on traffic ahead of a subscriber's vehicle and alerts users if there are traffic problems -- and then presents re-routing solutions. Think of that -- something that alerts you to traffic snarls up ahead (out of eyesight) and then suggests a different path. Now, that sounds like a very useful mobile tool to me -- among many others that seem like novelties.

Sprint announces mobile video availability milestone

Sprint said this weekend that it is the first wireless carrier to offer mobile video capability to more than one million customers over its nationwide Power Vision (EV-DO) network, which covers more than 8,700 cities and communities in the U.S.

Sprint now offers live programming, full-length movies, live concerts, Spanish-language programming and many other features on U.S. mobile phones -- including more than 50 TV channels viewable directly on your wireless handset.

With the "capability" of serving a million customers -- ones that probably have upgraded to EV-DO handsets recently, I surmise -- how many actually subscribe to some of Sprint's mobile TV services? Capability and actual subscriptions are slightly different beasts.

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!

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).

A great idea for mobile video streaming -- teaching

The world is the wireless industry's oyster if it can only figure out ways to be innovative in product and service offerings -- and many carriers are doing just that since competition is fierce and pressure to find new revenue streams never ends in the mecca of high-tech and consumer uptake.

Enter mobile video streaming, and in a Public Broadcasting System's PBS KIDS study just performed recently, preschoolers learned their alphabet quickly using video content streamed to 80 children -- all over video-capable Sprint phones (I'm assuming EV-DO handsets).

This study was a rather small-scale on, but just goes to show that wireless streaming and targeted multimedia content can be used for something other than video clips of "The Daily Show" (no pun intended). This was a really innovative use of a teaching tool -- and it would be awesome to see more occurrences like this.

Sony Erisccon upping the mobile music game with M-BUZZ?

While there have been a few mobile music downloading services that have done fairly well -- like Sprint's Music store with over a million downloads -- Sony Ericsson has introduced its M-BUZZ music, interview and music community download service.

This new service seems to be far beyond just another music download service. Since it offers unsigned artists, music artist interviews and mainstream music as well (so we hear), this new service looks like a collaboration between Sony Ericsson and other Sony companies like Sony Music.

The push now will be to get customers of newer Sony Ericsson "Walkman" music phones to actually use the service. This means carrier partnerships and heavy promotion if you ask me. Simply planting this service in the menu system of newer phones just won't do it.

Sprint's VUE mobile TV service spotted

Our friends over at Engadget Mobile have spied on the new Sprint VUE mobile television service and so far, have given it pretty good marks for content availability and picture quality -- as long as signal strength is strong enough.

Sprint VUE may be one of -- if not -- the first *real* attempts at offering a cable-like or satellite-like television viewing experience over a mobile device, and we may be reviewing this service soon to get our own feel for the navigation, quality and channel lineup Sprint VUE offers.

[via Engadget Mobile]

Navigon to demo new mobile-edition Navigator solution at CTIA

Navigon, who makes personal navigation equipment that is relatively high-end, will be demonstrating its Mobile Navigator 6 Mobile Edition at CTIA, which just started today. The navigation platform will be available in the U.S. -- finally -- on almost every wirelessly-enabled platform in use on mobiles today -- Windows Mobile 5, the Palm OS, the Symbian platform and the J2ME platform for universal mobile handset application.

Navigon's Mobile Navigator product has ease of use and introduces superior speed, performance and features such as text-to-speech technology, according to the company. It should be available here in the U.S. in late 2006 or early next year. Those looking for a voice-guided personal navigation solution (use in boat or car! Call now!) should be anxiously awaiting this product with salivating credit card numbers on tap.

Sprint to offer full-length movies over national wireless network

This is what I consider to be a watershed moment in mobile multimedia -- the featuring of full-length video-on-demand movies right over the air to your wireless handset. While I've been skeptical for some time on whether customers really want to enjoy video multimedia over their handset screens, this may be the feature that attracts new customers to the space.

Sprint has decided to make quite a large library of movies from several studios available to Sprint Nextel subscribers. Studios such as Buena Vista VOD, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures are contributing to the new service with recent and classic film titles (see below).

The "Sprint Movies" service will be powered by mSpot, which will take control over the entire delivery and display logistics over the Sprint Nextel nationwide wireless network. First up will be a title list of 45 titles, including recent hits such as "National Treasure," "Spider-Man 2" and "Scarface."

What is neat about this just-announced service is that Sprint Movies will feature many of the same conveniences as a DVD player. A movie can be seen in its entirety all at once, or it can be divided into chapters and watched over time. Customers will be able to play, pause and skip forward or backward to different chapters. In what I consider the single biggest selling point, customers will also be able to resume a movie at the exact point where it was last shut down. That is a requirement in my book.

Sprint Movies cost between $3.99 and $5.99 each, and customers will be able to view the movie for unlimited times within a set period, which varies between 24 hours and one week depending on the title. In addition, 24-hour titles include the option of purchasing up to two 24-hour viewing extensions at the rate of $.99. As of now, Sprint Movies is available on select Sprint multimedia handsets and can be watched anywhere while on Sprint's Power Vision network or nationwide Vision network.

To take away parental worry, all titles from Sprint Movies are edited, when necessary, to meet TV-14 standards, and new titles look to be added to the Sprint Movies lineup.

The list of Sprint movies that will be initially available from multiple studios will include:

Annapolis
Eight Below
Glory Road
Herbie: Fully Loaded
National Treasure
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Village
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
First Knight
Hollywood Homicide
Little Black Book
Spider-Man 2
The Medallion
The Net
Ultraviolet
American Pie
American Pie 2
Apollo 13
Babe
Backdraft
Billy Madison
Bring it On
Dante's Peak
End of Days
Erin Brokovich
Fast and Furious
Happy Gilmore
How High
Jaws
Kindergarten Cop
Meet the Parents
National Lampoon's Animal House
Reality Bites
Scarface
Slapshot
The Bone Collector
The Breakfast Club
The Family Man
The Jerk
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The Nutty Professor 2
Tremors
Twins
U-571

Ready to get your mobile movie game on? Sprint apparently has your number. What will be interesting to watch about this new service will be customer acceptance and recruitment to the service along with if any other national carrier will follow suit and make a mobile movies splash like this soon. Verizon, can you hear me now? How about Cingular?

Want a Bluetooth-enabled iPod?

Been dreaming about a Bluetooth-enabled iPod for a while? With the ability to wirelessly stream music from the popular music player to being able to use some new A2DP stereo Bluetooth headphones, this is a feature many customers wish Apple would include in the newer iPods.

Why wait -- there are many aftermarket wireless Bluetooth accessories now. An accessory that would probably suit many customers would be wireless headphones, although the trademark "white earbuds" that are a fashion statement these days would be quite diminished. Still, the loss of tangling cords would go away!

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