Archive | February, 2009

Indian claims patent for phones with dual SIM cards, invokes import ban on all such phones

23 Feb

Somasundaram Ramkumar, a resident of Madurai in India, has sent the entire handset vendor community into a tizzy. Ask why? Mr Ramkumar holds the patent in India for ‘phones with a plurality of SIM cards allocated to different communication networks’ and has asked the Indian customs authorities to disallow import of cellphones with dual SIM cards into the country. CellPassion has secured a copy of the directive from the Office of the Commissioner of Customs of Chennai Airport that has accepted his application and directed customs officials from across the country to stop clearing shipments of dual SIM phones.

And that’s not it, the application remains valid for the next five years or til the time the patent is valid (whichever is earlier). As a result, handset vendors do not have any inventory of phones with dual SIM card slots, which have become quite popular in India.

We also hear that Mr Ramkumar wants Rs 50 ($1) for every dual SIM phone shipped into the country, though we’ve not yet been able to independently verify the claim.

The Indian Cellular Association, a body of handset vendors in India, is said to have formed a committe on the issue as it fears that even local manufacturing of phones with dual SIM cards won’t be possible.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for more developments on this story. Stay tuned in!

Crap store shopping 5: Our latest Flame

20 Feb



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We are back with some fire works
this time from the crap store. We have got an app that lets you burn flames on
your screen.  We tried iBurn as it’s
called to test if it’s really hot. The moment you launch the app, a blank
screen appears and whatever you draw or etch appears in flames. 

Three taps on the right top
corner of the screen give ephemeral and persistent flames. In the ephemeral
mode, we could light up flames that kept appearing and vanishing. The persistent
mode was more fun as it kept those flames burning right there and made it look
as if someone had left them burning out on a beach wanting to leave a message
for someone. We decided to give a rather different colour to those flames so we
just tapped thrice on the down left corner and we got flames in blue and green.


All we had to do was to swipe all
five fingers across the screen to erase the previous one; the fire even fizzles
out realistically. Though iBurn does not do anything more, it can be sort of
fun for a while. Especially for those who like playing with fire!

Apple Rejects South Park app

19 Feb

The world must be reverberating with the sighs of disappointed iPhone
users. Apple has evidently rejected South Park Studios’ much-hyped app
based on the extremely popular South Park series. Interest in the app had skyrocketed after the folks at Boing Boing
had revealed details of the app along with its screenshots waaay back
in october. Unfortunately, Apple thought that the content of the app
was “potentially offensive” and denied it entry to the App Store. The
Cupertino company did however mention to the developers in its reply that
standards would evolve, thus leaving a door open for the app in the
future. After all, iTunes did not sell music with explicit lyrics when
it was launched. The developers are of course, not too happy and have
admitted on their site  that “the app is dead in the water.” We are waiting for those standards to evolve!

Multi-Touch on Steroids from Stantum

19 Feb

If you thought that that the iPhone was the last word in multi-touch, then the fellas at Stantum might just make you change your mind. They claim to be the “pioneer of multi-touch technologies since 2002″(according to their website) and have a technology called Pmatrix that allows users to work by moving as maany fingers, nails or styluses simulataneously on a screen. In essence, this means that you can do something by running all your fingers across a screen. Making all this magic happen are a matrix-patterned touchscreen, a dedicated multi-touch controller and a software driver. PMatrix touch sensors do not need calibrating and yet are sensitive enough to respond to wet or gloved hands. The company already has two multi-touch platforms – the SMK 3.5 and the SMK 2.5. The thought of using many fingers might sound a tad confusing to some but we like it! Now, we just hope some handsets use it.

5th International Mobile Gaming Awards Announced

18 Feb

The winners of the 5th Annual International Mobile Gaming Awards(IMGA) have been announced. Held during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the IMGA is an annual contest for the best mobile games in the world. As usual, the winners of the awards across eight categories were a blend of the unusual, the eccentric and, of course, the utterly innovative.

FastFoot-Challenge of Urban Team from Germany was named Best Real World Game, Mobigame from France received the Excellence in Gameplay Award with EDGE, Real Racer of Firemint from Australia won the Excellence in Connectivity Award, while Secret Exit from Finland walked away with the Excellence in 3D Award for their title Zen Bound. Tropical Towers of Real Arcade from Finland was awarded Best Casual Game.

The People’s Choice Award, chosen via on-line voting on went to Digital Legends from Spain with the title KROLL. Rounding off the awards, a panel of Mobile Operators,representing Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile, selected EDGE of Mobigame from France who therefore received the Operators’ Choice Award.

The Jury decided that all this year’s winning Category entries were of such a high standard that they all merited a Grand Prix. In addition, the exceptional innovation displayed in Kodo Evolved deserved an Innovation Award. As a result, this year the Jury has decided that theGrand Prix will be divided equally between the five Category winners and the winner of the Innovation Award.

Yes, yes, we are already trying to get our mitts on those games. Watch this  site, please.

News on 19 Feb

18 Feb

TRAI recommends new accounting system for telcos
communication ministry has been asked by TRAI to start a new reporting
and accounting system for the telcos. Under the new system, the
companies will need to  declare both combined and standalone revenues,
reports The Economic Times.
An audit of the telcos once in three to five years has also been
recommended. With the new system, the telcos will  have to give a
detailed break up of revenues earned from different services. The
recommendation was made after RCom divulged lower revenues from its
mobile services in order to pay less for the government license fee. As
most companies sell a wide range of services, it becomes necessary to
ensure the right revenue amount is disclosed.

Cellphones to be available on finance options
Mobile phones might soon be available on consumer finance from leading cellphone vendors. According to The Economic Times
cellphone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and LG are looking at tying
up with finance firms and banks in this regard. Nokia is working with
SKS Microfinance to launch the scheme in rural areas, after similar
schemes did well in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. HTC  is planning to
roll out a pilot  scheme in the North. “Consumer finance for mobiles
phones, though new in India, is a tried-and-tested model globally. It
is a good way to boost sales in markets that have a distributor-led
sales structure. It helps target new consumer segments,” said HTC India
country head Ajay Sharma.

Nokia Turns on CDMA Style, Reveals Dual Sliding 8208

18 Feb

Nokia has released the 8208, a dual slider phone for select CDMA markets outside the US. The device comes with a 3 megapixel camera,  dedicated music buttons and a battery life that Nokia claims  can support 20 hours of continuous music play. It supports 3G and has an expandable memory. It ain’t the N95, but it sure does add a touch of class to the big N’s CDMA line-up.

“We instinctively wanted to carry out a very modern look and feel in the design of our new devices, and to bring consumers a wide range of features,” said Larry Paulson, Nokia Senior Vice President, CDMA Devices. “Consumers want devices that are beautiful to look at and reflect their individuality, but also have the functionality that keeps them connected to their world easily. This device echoes our goal to broaden the Nokia portfolio of high tech, yet stylish devices in select global CDMA markets.”

The Nokia 8208 is expected to be released in select markets in the first quarter of 2009.

DataViz To Bring Cut and Paste to iPhone

18 Feb

Yep, you read that right. We have just learnt that DataViz (the folks
behind the Documents To Go office suite) are working on an office suite
for the iPhone. While it will have the usual word processor,
spreadsheet and presentation combo that is the combo for mobile office
suites, what has really made us bounce up and take notice is the fact
that it will also feature cut and paste – a first for the device! As if
that were not enough, DataViZ also said that it is looking at
innovative ways to synchronise data between the iPhone and a computer.
And it won’t necessarily be via Wi-Fi. The office suite will hit the
App Store in the second quarter of 2009 and you can bet we are already
lining up for it!

Qualcomm's Mirasol Display on Rcom's New Handset

18 Feb

Reliance Communications (Rcom) could well add a new twist to the lower end of the Indian mobile market with a low-cost, high battery life, CDMA device. The company shortly plans to launch a device with a monochrome display using Qualcomm’s much-hyped Mirasol technology. The technology  is based on a reflective technology called IMOD  (Interferometric MODulation), with MEMS structures at its core. It consumes significantly lesser power, and is highly reflective, allowing the display to be clearly visible even in direct sunlight. All of which adds up to a device that could well redefine value for money in the lower segments.

Motion Detection: It's a SIM!

18 Feb

Just when we thought we had seen pretty much everything that motion detection on phones could offer, the folks at Oberthur Technologies have come up with something new – a SIM card that detects movement. This would quite literally allow any phone to sense motion, although to what extent remains to be seen.

Making this possible is a patent-pending technology called SIMsense that allows mobile network operators to offer services which can be operated by just moving or tapping the phone. These include selecting a menu or sending a predetermined text message to indicate one is busy by shaking the phone. What really grabbed our attention was a feature that would allow a predetermined message to be sent to a set of contacts if the person suffered a fall, provided the handset was close to his or her body – handy but also capable of more than a few false alarms if one just happened to have a stumbley day.

Still, SIMsense sound pretty promising. Let’s see what the operators make of it.