Archive | February, 2008

Google strikes three, gets aboard Opera Mini

27 Feb

Merely days after shaking hands with Nokia and launching a homescreen search app for S60 third edition phones, Google struck gold again by becoming the default search portal aboard Opera Mini. The web browser that brings mobile Internet to almost any Java enabled cellphone has over 35 million users who browse 1.7 billion pages in a month. With the iPhone, Nokia and Opera Mini on its side, we wonder how Google’s competitors will catch up in the mobile search market, which is being touted as the next frontier for Online Search business.

Nokia releases Location Tagger beta

26 Feb

You can now get the much touted location tagging feature – present in the latest crop of Nokia phones announced at the Mobile World Congress in 2008 – on your existing S60 third edition Nokia phone. Nokia Beta Labs has released a beta version of the application that runs in the background while you are trigger happy snapping pictures. The application will tag the pictures with location coordinates using the phone’s internal GPS (or an external Bluetooth GPS receiver paired with phone). You can then arrange these pictures on a map, using Flickr or similar services. We’re currently using this application and will certainly serve you with an in-depth review soon. Keep logged in!

Mom, I want Mobile TV!

26 Feb

If you want to get a sense of what consumers really want on their cellphones, a stroll through West Delhi’s Gaffar market is the best thing to do (apart from relying on ‘analysts’, who can come up with mysterious figures and stats to further confuse you.). It is no wonder that whenever any honcho of any handset brand pays a visit to India, Gaffar is on his/her itinerary, often under the ‘market visit’ tab. I, too, love the market, especially to see the latest Chinese imports and these days to check the current rate of an unlocked iPhone, which by the way is Rs 21,000 ($525) for the eight gig version. But what it also throws up is an insight to the features that consumers are looking for in their cellphones.

The usual suspects – music, touch screen and phones with dual SIM cards – are always there in abundance. But the latest fad is Mobile TV. Well, don’t be alarmed, it’s not the Nokia variety that requires a technology called DVB-H, or the service provider one, that streams over the data channel. Rather, it is a product of Chinese ingenuity – a phone with a TV signal receiver that picks up signals from cables running overhead. 

Shopkeepers claim that the phone can pick up satellite cable channels if a cable wire is in the vicinity of 10 metres. Even without a cable wire, the antenna on the phone (which resembles the ones found on most primitive FM radio receivers) is capable enough to pick up strain signals of Doordarshan. Of course, the phones have a touchscreen, can accommodate two SIM cards and have a microSD card slot. The price can be anything between Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,500 ($112 to $162) depending on your bargaining skills.

But who would buy a Chinese phone that comes with just six months of warranty, which too comes through the shopkeepers word (often a signature accompanied by the date of purchase on the back of his visiting card) than a printed bill? Well, many. Take the case of Mukesh, who, along with his brother, runs a small cigarette stall in Delhi. He doesn’t mind handing a free mint candy when you buy a cigarette stick, especially if you spend a couple of minutes and discuss cricket with him. His latest acquisition is a Chinese Mobile TV phone that lets him watch the ongoing India’s cricket tour of Australia when it’s his turn to man the stall. 

“I just had to spend Rs 2,000 ($50) for this phone as the shopkeeper exchanged it for my old phone. I can watch the match live on it and it is way better than listening to radio commentary,” says Mukesh. Ask him about Nokia’s N77, the brand’s DVB-H-enabled device, he says it’s too expensive for him. “It has a very small screen and doesn’t even have a touchscreen. I have heard that the signals get scratchy when you move out of Delhi. With this phone, I can watch TV no matter where I go,” he adds.

Well, some might think that picking up signals from overhead cables is equivalent to stealing (think of it as surfing Internet using someone’s open Wi-Fi network) but the reality is till the time technology isn’t made accessible and cheap, you can’t stop people. For instance, the DVB-H pilot in India is restricted to a small radius around New Delhi and comes only on a couple of Nokia devices, which cost upwards of Rs 15,000 ($375). 

I once asked a Nokia spokesperson whether the company intends to bring DVB-H to the mid-end segment, he replied: “Why do you want all features at a lower price. In the case of Mobile TV, don’t just look at the cost of the handset. See the screen quality and other features. I don’t think that Mobile TV will come to mid-end handsets,” he said with a smirk.

This leaves the aspirational lot with no choice but to look at the Chinese variety, which can’t match the quality of an established brand but gives them the chance to fulfil their fantasies. Well, till the biggies don’t look beyond a megapixel camera or FM radio for their mid-end segment portfolio, the Chinese varieties will rule Gaffar.

Nokia demos morphing phone concept

25 Feb

At the Design and Elastic Mind exhibition currently underway at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Nokia and the Cambridge University demonstrated the Morph concept phone. A nanotechnology concept, users will be able to stretch or mould the device according to their mood. Nanotechnology might be able to deliver flexible materials, transparent electronics or self cleaning surfaces in the future. Nokia expects elements from the Morph concept to percolate into cellphones in the next seven years.

Upcoming Sony Ericsson slider leaked

25 Feb

Someone at Sony Ericsson Forum got to play with an unannounced Sony Ericsson slider phone and didn’t waste any time in posting pictures of the device from all possible angles. The yet-unnamed device seems to be a mid-level phone and has an unusual shiny metallic finish, something that you rarely get to see in a Sony Ericsson phone. Details are scarce and sketchy and we’ll keep you posted on the developments.

LinkedIn goes mobile

25 Feb

After ‘popular social networking’ service, Facebook, went BlackBerry a couple of months ago, it was only a matter of time when its ‘serious professional networking’ counterpart would do something similar. Yesterday, LinkedIn formally went mobile and how! The professional networking service is now available on any WAP-enabled phone and has a special version for the iPhone. Members can now hit to search profiles, invite others and receive network updates. What’s more, you can read the site in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese languages. Jeez! The folks are also planning to make other features like Answers and Experts accessible on the small screen. So what are you waiting for, ‘Let’s Connect!’

Moto slips in Rokr W5 at MWC

22 Feb

While Motorola did not really have a memorable outing at the Mobile World Congress 2008, one product we found missing in action was the Rokr W5. The device was mentioned in the product portfolio handed out to the press but was no where to be seen. If you recall, Cellpassion had unveiled the existence of the Rokr W5 way back in September last year. True to our words, the device exists and has the following specifications:

2.0 MP camera
2 inch QVGA display
Quadband GSM/EDGE
A2DP Bluetooth
Windows Media Player 11 compatible
microSD card slot
Dedicated music launch key