Tag Archives: Technology

The 5 Best Mobile Phones

The following is a list of the five best mobile phones that we give a rating of 5 stars, including the Samsung Tocco Lite, Samsung Jet, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Samsung Genio Touch and Apple iPhone 3G S.

Samsung Tocco Lite. Available in black or pink, the Samsung Tocco Lite is seen as a response to the LG Cookie. The touchscreen mobile phone is great value for money, but lacks 3G. All the features you would expect from a modern mobile phone are included, with easy access to popular websites such as YouTube and Facebook, a 3.2 megapixel camera, FM radio with RDS, video recording, music player, Bluetooth and a memory card slot. It’s available for free on contract with a range of free gifts, such as a laptop, free line rental or an X-Box 360!

Samsung Jet. This attractive slimline phone is extremely fast and responsive. Not only does it deliver a lot of features and good quality, but it comes at a middle-of-the-road price. It delivers access to a range of online widgets, fantastic web browser, multi-tasking and a fast processor to handle it all. It comes with a 5 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, FM radio with RDS, music player and a fantastic AMOLED display. This great phone comes packed with incredible features.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. Available in Black, red and blue, the first touchscreen phone to be released by Nokia is very impressive. Some may say that the list of great features make it better than the iPhone, even if the iPhone seems more polished. The benefits include a 3.2 megapixel with Carl Zeiss optics, 3G video calling, a Flash supported web browser, and the touchscreen offers an extremely high resolution with 16 million colours. In addition, a music player with FM radio, GPS positioning, WiFi, Bluetooth and an 8GB memory card!

Samsung Genio Touch. Similar to the Tocco Lite, this touchscreen mobile phone is ideal for those looking at entry-level. The camera is more basic than the Tocco Lite, and the screen smaller, but MySpace, Facebook and Twitter are easily accessible. With its bargain price-tag, the Genio Touch is an all-round great phone.

Apple iPhone 3G S. Last, but by no means least, the iPhone is the best known and quite easily the greatest phone to ever be released. This isn’t just a phone, but equally a media player and internet device, too. Also included are GPS, a digital compass, WiFi, extremely fast web browsing and there are thousands of applications available. Complete with 32GB of memory, a mountain of music storage is possible. The only problem is that most of us will have to wait for the high price to drop!

Mobile Airwaves to be Harmonised

The EU is encouraging its members to occupy the same airwaves for mobile broadband In an attempt to reach its 2013 target of 100% broadband coverage.

As members change from the traditional analogue to the new digital broadcasting method, the spectrum will be made available.

The change will make it much simpler to use devices “across borders” and permit consumers to use “roaming” services.

The plan is being likened by some to the rise of GSM mobile phones in the 1990s.

Using a common frequency as planned would be of significant benefit to rural communities as it travels over long distances.

The EU revealed that approximately 30% of its rural population is currently without high-speed internet access.

The development will use the 790-862 MHz sub-band radio spectrum  which is part of the “digital dividend” which was made available from the digital switchover.

However, during the changeover, the EU will be determined that all of its members agree on its technical standards.

 Without such agreements, different states may allow different uses for the spectrum which could cause interference, revealing that “radio spectrum knows no borders.”

A bonus for mobile broadband users is that the 790-862 MHz spectrum can easily penetrate buildings.

According to the commission, it is feasible that “3G and 4G mobile phone services that allow video streaming, full web browsing and fast downloads on a mobile handset,” could be used.

This would enable “high-speed broadband coverage of 100% of the EU population by the end of 2013.”

This switchover would need to be made by 2012 according to the EU and the developments are being encouraged by British broadcasting regulator Ofcom, who will study the proceedings with the government.

A spokesman announced, “the spectrum could deliver benefits such as mobile broadband or any other suitable services to EU citizens.”

An open auction for the frequencies made available by the switchover will be held in the UK, with many groups interested, such as broadcasters who could use some frequencies for high-definition services.

The EU has several “strategic objectives” to take advantage of the digital dividend, including a European-wide agreement on how the frequencies should be used and meeting targets on the technologies that will be allowed to use them, too.

By making agreements over the use of the frequencies, up to £45bn could be generated as a result.

Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media declared that “The digital dividend is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make ‘broadband for all’ a reality all over Europe and boost some of the most innovative sectors of our economy.”

“Europe will only make the most of the digital dividend if we work together on a common plan.”

Internet Set for Language Revolution

The internet is all set for the onset of what is seen by many to be the “biggest change” since its invention 40 years ago, according to regulator Icann.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) announced that coming to the conclusion of plans to allow non-Latin characters to be used in website addresses as Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs).

Initially accepted in 2008 , the change will see domain names written in Arabic and other Asian scripts.

The regulatory body revealed that applications would begin to be considered for approval by 16th of November if granted for approval on 30 October.

The president of Icann, Rod Beckstrom, believes that the first IDNs could be in use by “mid 2010.”

Beckstrom continued, “Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based.”

“So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.”

According to Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the board which has been set the duty of reviewing the change, IDN plans were approved in June 2008 but the system has been undergoing rigorous testing for much longer.

Dengate Thrush is pleased with the developments, stating that “you have to appreciate what a fantastically complicated technical feature this is.”

“What we have created is a different translation system.”

The alterations will be applied to the internet’s Domain Name System, which works in a similar way to a phone book, translating web domains names such as google.com into a series of numbers, more commonly known as IP addresses.

The modifications are due to allow this current system to understand and translate non-Latin characters.

Dengate Thrush added, “we are confident that it works because we have been testing it for a couple of years.”

“We’re really ready to start rolling it out.”

In China and Thailand, internet users can already access websites using their own language, as the website owners have used special work around techniques. However, these website addresses don’t work on all computers and are not internationally approved.

The meeting will take place in South Korea and include talks on the introduction of generic Top Level Domains (TLDs), such as .uk or .com.

The organisation allowed a relaxation on the rules regarding TLDs last year so that businesses could use their brand as a website address and individuals could use their names.

The US government founded Icann in 1998 in a big to control regulations on the internet, but has undergone years of criticism, leading to the relaxing of its control over the non-profit body.

Autonomy was provided to Icann when the US government signed an agreement on 1 October.

Nokia to Sue Apple

Finland’s mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to sue Apple for their failure to pass on royalties from their sales of the immensely popular iPhone.

Apple are said to have infringed upon Nokia’s mobile phone technology patents when developing the iPhone.

How much Nokia will be seeking has not yet been confirmed, but expert analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray predicts that Nokia will seek 1-2% from every iPhone that is sold.

Over 30 million have been sold to date which would generate between $6 and $12 per iPhone, potentially totalling $400m.

Apple has recently announced third quarter profits of £1bn with the iPhone delivering a 7% growth, having to pass on 1-2% of its iPhone royalties would be relatively insignificant.

On the other hand, Nokia revealed a loss for the last quarter due to a downturn in sales; the first in a decade.

Nokia has confirmed agreements with approximately 40 companies, which included the majority of mobile phone handset makers, allowing the use of its technological advancements, but Apple had not signed the agreement.

Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia explained, “the basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for.”

“Apple is also expected to follow this principle.”

Mr Rahnasto went on to say, that Nokia has actually invested over £36bn on research and development in the past two decades.

Highly respected Apple expert Mr Munster has confessed that a sum of $12 per phone was “unlikely,” but if Nokia did manage to prise such a high figure out of Apple, it “would not change our positive thesis on the iPhone and Apple.” He went on to add, that “ultimately, the resolution is uncertain.”

The BBC sought further information from Apple, but a spokesman for the technology giant revealed that the company didn’t comment on pending litigation.

Nokia have alleged a total of 10 patent infringements, applying to all models from the iPhone range since its 2007 launch. Some of the patents that have been allegedly breeched include wireless data technology, speech coding, encryption and security. Nokia went on to accuse Apple of “trying to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

Why Microsoft Needs Windows 7 to Succeed

Thursday, 22 October sees the highly anticipated arrival of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, with many believing that the future of the world’s largest software company will depend on its success.

The enormous scale of Microsoft’s grip on the market becomes clear when told of the 90% of computers relying on its Windows operating system, and over 1 billion people using it.

Microsoft’s last financial year saw a £35.7bn turnover with a net profit of approximately £9bn. Over half the profits generated were reliant upon Windows.

Experts have predicted that Microsoft’s stranglehold over the market was due to drop, with competitors Linux and Apple waiting to jump in. Many experts predict that software will be shifted to the “cloud,” where people connect to remote servers to access their software in a revolution to worldwide computing.

Microsoft brought about the attention of regulators at the US Department of Justice and the European Commission with ruthless actions towards competitors.

The release of its Vista operating system 3 years ago rendered many of its first users with unusable hardware and software; a crushing blow and seriously damaged its reputation with software developers and customers alike.

Most people still prefer Windows XP, Vista’s eight-year-old predecessor, with estimates suggesting that Vista has between 18.6% and 35% hold on the market.

Annette Jump, research director at technology firm Gartner, believes that “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system” whilst Microsoft International’s Jean-Philippe Courtois thinks “we don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

This could be the only chance for Microsoft to regain the confidence that took a blow during the Vista period. Many Microsoft executives feel that they learnt a lot from what went wrong with Vista.

Windows 7 looks set to be released in good time, just 3 years after the release of Vista. Those that have tested it have reported it to be fast, secure, reliable, and easy to use. Microsoft have made big steps to avoid making the mistakes experienced with Vista, and prepared its partners for the release.

Mr Courtois believes that “the Windows ecosystem is the broadest in the world, and we have to take care of that,” with Alex Gruzen from Dell Computers surprised at how “the preparations for Windows 7 have been a remarkable step up from the days of dealing with Vista.”

He continued by revealing that “in the past, Microsoft looked at its operating system in isolation, and gave it to [manufacturers] to do whatever they wanted. Now they collaborate, help to figure out which third-party vendors are slowing down the system, help them improve their code.”

Sony Ericsson Shipments Plummet by 45%

After releasing their third-quarter (Q3) results, Sony Ericsson’s sales are down to €1.619 billion, a massive drop of 42%.

Handset shipments and revenues are also struggling at Sony Ericsson. Their Q3 results show that just 14.1 million units were shipped, a 2% shortfall on Q2 results and a 45% slump in comparison to the same quarter results from last year.

Sony Ericsson will be most hurt that their sales figures are 42% down to £1.48 billion, 4% lower than Q2. The average selling price of Sony Ericsson units is down from €122 in Q2 to €114 in Q3, but up from last year’s Q3 figures of €109.

The mixture of products and difficult market conditions was blamed for the lower average selling price of handsets.

According to a statement made by Sony Ericsson, improvements were made on gross margin, but dropped annually due to foreign exchange inconsistencies and lower sales. However, improvements in volume and percentage rate were seen in the success of the W995 Walkman phone and a series of cost cutting measures.

President of Sony Ericsson, Dick Komiyama, stated “Our business in the third quarter started to show the effects of our ongoing transformation programme. Having refreshed our brand we are now better positioned to support the launch of new products such as Aino and Satio in Q4 2009. We have cleared channel inventories, and have continued to realign internal resources and improve efficiency.  We have also arranged external financing to strengthen the company’s financial position.

“Transforming the business for future growth and returning Sony Ericsson to profitability is the focus of the senior management team and will continue under the new leadership.”

Sony Ericsson set out last year in a bid to reduce their annual operating expenses by €880 million; efforts that are set to continue. The benefits from these cuts are due to be seen towards the end of 2010.

Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, chief executive and president of Sony and member of the Sony Ericsson board, succeeded Carl-Henric Svanberg on 15 October, with Bert Nordberg becoming president at Sony Ericsson in place of Dick Komiyama. Mr Komiyama will remain as an executive advisor until the later stages of 2009.

Experts believe that the world mobile phone handset market for 2009 will shrink by approximately 10% from the 1.19 billion units sold in 2008. Sony Ericsson believe that for unit sales during Q3, they hold approximately five per-cent of the world market.

Sidekick Loss Hits T-Mobile Phone Sales

T-Mobile has had to withdraw the Sidekick in America, after being made aware that customers could lose personal data through its server.

The designer of Sidekick’s software, Danger (a subsidiary of Microsoft), confirmed the fault, with the mobile phone industry condemning the issue as one of the biggest failings in recent years.

Microsoft are also coming out of the situation look bad, after promoting cloud or online services as a means of less expensive solution to enterprise storage.

Harry McCracken, editor of Technologizer.com told BBC News “this is the most spectacular loss of data on the web to date.”

“There have been other examples, but always from small companies. For this to involve a big name like Microsoft is a major embarrassment and a big worry for consumers and Microsoft.”

Data back-up

It is understood that Microsoft’s company Danger, experienced a technical hitch which caused major data loss, with Sidekick users seeing disruptions for the past week. Investigations are underway to find the cause of the faulty server, with Microsoft yet to offer an explanation.

Sidekick uses an online service to provide back-up contacts, calendar appointments, photos and other personal information saved to the mobile phone. Some of the one million subscribers to Sidekick have “almost certainly” lost personal data as a result of this glitch according to Microsoft.

Those most at risk of losing their personal information are those who let their battery fully drain or removed it completely, causing all local copies of data to be cleared from the phone.

“I had 411 contacts, now they are all gone. I had five e-mail accounts set up on the phone as well which are also gone, address book and all,” complained 17 year old high-school student Kayla Hasse from New Jersey.

“I am extremely upset not only due to the fact I lost everything, but also because I pay 20 some dollars a month for THIS? It’s ridiculous.”

Mr McCracken feels it’s a “real wake-up call for customers.”

“In the past we have always tended to assume that big companies are better at backing up our data than we are. While this is true in most cases, a lot of people are going to say you can’t trust third parties, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, Apple or whoever.”

The future of cloud computing

Whilst Microsoft and T-Mobile may experience the immediate fall-out from this problem, experts fear that it may cause long term damage to customer confidence in cloud computing.

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts is concerned. “Microsoft has been beating the drum for the idea of cloud computing where we all trust our stuff on some server up in Washington State,”

“This is going to throw a little cold water on that idea for the moment. Microsoft is going to have to do some explaining and give good assurances that cloud computing is viable and that it won’t lose data in the future, otherwise people won’t trust it.”

DAB future is bleak as year-on-year sales drop 20 per cent below expectations

The future of DAB is in the balance as sales of the technology have been recorded to have slowed through 2008 according to figures recently released.  Unfortunately for the DAB technology sales in the digital radios fell by 10 per cent through the final three months of 2008 in comparison to 2007, marking the first recorded quarter that the digital radio technology has felt a drop in year on year sales since digital radio sales were first recorded six years ago.

Being market as a success throughout the middle-class homes in the country, the digital radio was set to take over from analogue radio in the same way that digital television is gearing up to take over from analogue television.  However, there has been no date set as yet as to when analogue radio will be completely switched off and this uneasiness is starting to ripple through the growth of the DAB market.

Still, the battle that DAB faces against the ongoing pressure applied by the popular internet radio platform rages on and could in the end derail DAB’s hopes for taking over the future of the radio waves.  The effects of Internet radio are being compared to what is being seen stunting the growth of Blu-Ray DVDs as video content is being delivered digitally.

The figures speak for themselves in this situation and clearly show the popularity of the DAB radio could simply have fallen into being labelled a ‘fad’.  More than 500,000 DAB units were sold through December 2008, however that figure is down by 10 per cent compared to December 2007 and has fallen well short of predictions made by the Digital Radio Development Bureau, falling around 20 per cent below the forecast.

The chief executive of DRDB, Tony Moretta, claimed that the figures were encouraging despite falling below the forecasted sales as the results could have been much worse in the wake of the economic recession.

“At the end of the day any forecast from any body a year ago would not have predicted what has happened to the economy.  There aren’t many industries or companies that have hit their targets for the year. We are still seeing growth. Despite lots of sometimes negative stories in the press, consumers are still going out and buying digital radios,” said Moretta.

Moretta felt that the outlook for the DAB device is bright and that these figures do not represent the country’s feelings on the technology.  “Consumer confidence in DAB remains high and it is important that retailers and manufacturers do not lose sight. At a time when other consumer electronics products are suffering declining volumes and value, DAB radio is holding its market position and growing its share versus analogue devices,” continued Moretta, who also blamed a “lack of stock” in many retail stores to be a key issue around the Christmas period.

2009 will be a decisive year for the future of the DAB device which will be looking to make progress in a difficult economy.

Belkin caught fixing Amazon reviews

It has emerged that Belkin, the computer accessory manufacturer, have been filling out fake reviews on Amazon in an attempt to boost sales and push a good business image to customers.  Belkin are claiming that the naughty activity can be blamed on one “rogue” employee who is said to have paid others to write the reviews, however, the admittance by the company comes after some denial.

The “rogue” employee who is responsible for the review fixing, Michael Bayard, is claimed to have paid people who don’t even own the product to write positive reviews on the Amazon website and to even go into depth about why they think the product was so great.

However, Belkin, in an attempt to spin the news to suit them a little better, have released a statement underlining the company’s ethics and surprise therefore on discovering the news.

“Belkin has always held itself to the highest standards of corporate ethics and its employees to the highest standards of personal integrity. Similarly, we support our online user community in discussion and reviews of our products, whether the commentary is good or bad. So, it was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment.

“Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened,” said the statement.

Perhaps the biggest mistake the business development representative made was to post the job as an advert on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service.  Bayard advertised for people to “write a positive 5/5 review for product on website” – did he really think he would get away with that?

Bayard went on to say in his advert that he wanted people to use their “best possible grammar and write in US English only”, as well as to “always give a 100% rating” and to “write as if you own the product”.  How honest…

The news can’t be received very well at Amazon either, as the economic downturn has provided business around the world with a steep hill to climb in terms of sales and such bad advertising cannot be good news.  If Belkin can bend the rules, what is stopping every other company with a product on the Amazon website doing exactly the same?