Tuesday, November 29, 2005

DynaTac is back!

When Motorola introduced the DynaTac in 1983, the worlds first commercial mobile phone weighed nearly 1Kg and cost about the same as a car! Now you can pick one up with new components and a colour screen replacement for just under $300 in China. Retrotastic!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BlueBall - this is mad...

reminds me of the Honda ad.... go here

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Vodafone 804sh

I don't usually write about specific devices (because so many other blogs do) but I thought I would break with the norm and mention a very neat phone that has quietly been launched by Vodafone KK (Japan).
The Sharp 804sh is a clam-shell design which comes in 4 different colours. It also comes with a number of particulary cool features:
1) Mobile wallet - supports Felica and enables customers to buy things with their mobile phone - debited from their mobile bill (transport tickets, electronic shopping and point of sale goods in specific shops).
2) Integrated compass - for all those Ray Mears fans - this is the phone for you - if you get lost - the phone can tell you north from south and east from west (uses no.3)
3) Finally, the coolest of them all - the Motion Control Sensor (MCS)- this is a very neat little chip in the device which recognises and responds to movements and opens up a whole host of new opportunities for handsets - from new interactive gaming scenarios (pointing a gun, swinging a golf club) to improving the accuracy of location technologies (AGPS cant tell very well what height you're at - e.g. what floor of a building you might be on).

This technology has been on the market since February on 2G devices, but this is the first time it has been incorporated in to a 3g offering. The motion control sensor element potentially represents a strong USP for Vodafone KK over the Christmas sales period and a strong technology advantage given that the IPR is owned jointly by Vodafone and Aichi Steel Corporation.
I demo'd this at the end of last year and although it was in prototype state, the user experience of the MCS technology is extremely impressive - it really makes you smile. I think the impact will initially be in the game space, and it should enable a step-change in the mobile phone gaming experience which will reduce the distance between the mobile and portable game players such as the PSP3, Nintendo DS and iGame(!)


Konfabulator doesnt think much of the outlook here in Düsseldorf over the next few days...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

uConnect VOIP Converter

Just connect one of these in to the back of your PC and you can use any existing telephone to talk on Skype (e.g. analogue, DECT, corldless etc).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Office art

This is what hangs on the walls at Vodafone HQ!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Amazing photography, eery images

Chinese factory - submissions to World Press Photo Competition

IM to Voice

I saw this ad banner for Yahoo Messenger today that reads; "stop typing, start talking". Yahoo are promoting new voice support within their IM client (following DialPad acquisition) and it got me wondering if people will easily migrate from IM to voice? Its a different type of communication with a different associated psychology. How much substitution will happen, or how much additional traffic will be generated will be interesting to watch. Will the IM user base hurl their keyboards out the window and replace them with USB headsets - or will they compliment their heavy IM usage with the occassional phone call.
Yahoo are going to approaching this in reverse to Skype - Skype built a heavy voice usage base and complimented this with IM (I personally found that I discarded my other IM clients in favour of skype because Skype had the the most valuable contacts - probably because Im bothered to call them, rather than IM them). So then, may be we can judge the value of a relationship by the type of communication bearer we use to interact with it?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mobile RSS

If you can't be without your RSS feeds when away from your PC, then try a RSS feed reader that works on your mobile.

Currently on offer:

Feedburner Mobile RSS Reader (various versions, MIDP 2.0 compatible, Palm OS5, FREE)
Dace Mobile RSS Feed Reader(MIDP 1.0 compatible, $3.14 from Handango)
My Yahoo Mobile - you can read the RSS feeds via WAP that you have set up in your MyYahoo)
Feedalot - (WAP based view of the RSS feeds you have subscribed to at the website)
Ennovation MX RSS+ (Java download, support Chinese)
FreeNews (Blackberry, Treo, Java compatible, Free trial then 20 bucks)
RocketInfo RSS (their website doesnt work, but they claim to offer a mobile reader)
Bloggo (RSS over WAP)
mReader (J2ME)

Cheap international mobile phone calls

Dialabroad, a UK start-up has launched a smart service to enable mobile phone users to make cheap international mobile phone calls. It works like this:

1) You send a text to their short-code - this is premium text that costs you either €5 or €7 (3 or 5 uk pounds). This credits your account with the same amount of calling credit.
2) When you want to dial an international number, you dial the dialabroad number first, then dial your destination. Thats it - simple!

Many of the dialing destinations are free to dial.

My only issue with the website is that some users may misinterpret it to mean cheap/free international phone calls from abroad, instead of to abroad. If you're abroad (say Spain) and use this service to dial back home (UK) , you will incurr the roaming cost from where you are (Spain) back to the UK, which is unlikely to be cheap.

While were on this subject, you should also know that EU commisioner Viviane Reding launched a new EU information website last month to provide greater transparency of international roaming charges to help the consumer get a better deal.

Another good solution for UK mobile users roaming frequently abroad is UK2abroad who provide mail order local SIMs- its very simple, the only slight hassle being that you have to occasionally drop in to a foreign mobile shop to get a top-up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mobile encyclopedia - Cellphedia

This is a cell phone application that promotes the sharing of knowledge. It allows users to send and receive encyclopedia-type inquiries between specific, pre-defined groups of users, through Text messaging. Users can register on this site and start building the quick-reference Cellphedia-type encyclopedia entries, by asking other users and answering other users' questions wherever cell phone service is available.

Mobile P2P File Sharing

The first mobile Peer 2 peer file sharing applications for Symbian are beginning to appear
Take a look at Symella.

Thanks for the tip Bruno

Mobile conferencing

LogOn connects all pieces of the conference/exhibition puzzle together using mobile technologies; presenters, exhibitors, organisers, and visitors. They provide a managed service which covers the end to end process from SMS invites, WAP/client based agendas, Conference updates, to Attendee info and SMS Voting.

Loaning to help the developing world

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on their website and then lending money online to that enterprise, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor towards economic independence.

This is a neat model, but it is too early to tell if it works - the site has only been up a couple of months. Clearly, not every single business will be able to repay the loan, but it will need success stories and full loan repayments to ensure repeat loans.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Google Local Mobile

Ive talked too much about Google recently but I kind of cant help it - theyve just launched a beta for Google Local Mobile - which should give mobile industry something to worry about.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Google Talk Video

Festoon Inc (Santa Cruz Networks) have added Google Talk support to their video plug-in so you can now video-chat/call on GTalk.

They also have a neat product called Eyecandy that lets users doing funny backgrounds, effects and overlays. See the demo here

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The OYBike System is a UK central London street-based rental station network that allows you to hire and return a bicycle via your mobile phone. OYBike operate a pay as you go system and charges start at 30p ($0.50c) for 15 minutes. With worries about public transport security, increasing inner-city congestion charges and increasing petrol prices - these types of services should see increased interest and usage.

the car equivalent in the US is Zipcar

updated gadgetometer

new additions in Blue

1 Apple iPod
1 SE V800
3 Nokia 6600
1 Blackberry 7100v
1 compaq iPaq
1 Dell Laptop
1 Motorola E1000
1 Pentax Optio DigiCam
1 Bosch Fixed-phone
1 Sony DCR-PC55 video camera
1 nokia 3230
1 Vodafone simply (sagem VS1)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Google Customer Services

A few months back, I wrote a post about a suspected bug in Picasa/Hello (google owned) which enabled me to get hold of the jsalmon.blogspot.com web address. It was previously being used by someone else, but the blog registration process via Hello let me get hold of it. I thought this could be a potentially damaging bug/hole so I wrote to Blogger customer services explaining the problem, and expecting them to get back to me (at some point). Its now 3 months since I wrote to them and I haven't heard a thing.
To date, Google hasn't had to provide much in the way of customer services - a significant expenditure for other service related companies. I'm sure they have a few teams looking after cash-cow adword/adsense clients, but most of their other services don't need much currently in the way of support. However I think this may begin to change and Google is going to have to do something about both its support levels and response times. As our internet usage and destination preference increasingly goes Googles way, we become more reliant on the effectiveness of their product experiences, and product integration points. You can address a lot of potential hiccups with good engineering, rigorous testing and thorough beta phases, but there will inevitably be problems and users will complain. Complaints cost money, both in employing people to deal with them and the negative PR that can generated as a result of a serious hiccup. So Google will need to think how it addresses this, firstly to maintain its brand preference and image and secondly to control and minimise its costs. I hope that it addresses this with its traditional levels of innovation and re-engineers the way that Customer Service Centres are rolled out and operate. Maybe it could create an army of Google "Bees", home workers who are connected to Google customers with Google Talk and Gmail, who are geographically distributed across the globe and able to converse in multiple languages. They could be rated by the customer on their response effectiveness and therefore create a customer-managed workforce. I would also hope that they could respond to a request in less than 3 months!