EDITORIAL EDGE iPhone vs. gPhone
By Brad Smith, Wireless Week Technology Editor
It is fascinating to watch what is going on with Apple’s iPhone now, especially when you think about how its business model differs from Google and the Internet company’s plans for the handset world.
All companies are in business to make money, and Apple has been making a lot of money for itself and its investors with the iPod, iTunes and iPhone. You can’t fault Steve Jobs for wanting to make Apple a financial success.
Google also has made a ton of money (maybe five tons but who can count that high?) doing its thing. But Google’s plans for handsets couldn’t be much different from Apple’s.
Apple’s iPhone launched last year with a typically Apple closed world. Not only did Apple keep the brains inside the iPhone locked up, it reportedly demanded and received royalties from carriers on its use, something unheard of before. The main point, though, was that Apple controlled every application that ran on the iPhone.
Jobs relented recently on the iPhone’s restrictions for developers, offering a beta software development kit (SDK) that has been downloaded by more than 100,000 developers. The final SDK will be available in June, allowing third-party developers the ability to write applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Apple also is trying to get enterprise legs for the iPhone by supporting Microsoft Exchange e-mail.
Some developers have whined about restrictions Apple has placed on using the SDK, but Apple nonetheless is opening up its platform. Of course, they will make money off any application developed for it.
Meanwhile, Google and the companies involved in the Open Handset Alliance have come up with the Android handset platform, which will be completely open to all developers and will be offered for free to handset manufacturers.
Google isn’t being altruistic with Android. But its motivation is that the mobile Internet should be treated like the traditional Internet. Developers aren’t restricted on the Internet, so why should they be restricted on the mobile Internet? That’s Google’s position. Google expects to make money, not off the handset and its software but off what it expects will be increased use of its mobile applications and services, including advertising.
I happen to think Google’s approach is a better one than Apple’s. Apple makes great products, but restricting their use limits their capabilities and their market. I also think Apple is worried about the potential impact of Android and that’s why it has decided to offer an SDK for the iPhone just before the first Android phones hit the market.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the iPhone in the coming months, especially after Android phones are available.
Technology companies envision the mobile phone becoming the center of the consumer’s universe, even more so than it already is. It can be a controller for various other consumer electronics devices like video players or projectors; it can figure out where you are and tell you how to get somewhere else; it can play your music and even play TV shows you’ve recorded on your digital video recorder.
In the not-too-distant future, perhaps 2010, the phone also will be able to “talk” to a number of low-power mobile devices like heart rate monitors, pedometers, sports equipment monitors and watches. That’s the plan behind a new Bluetooth specification called Ultra Low Power (ULP) Bluetooth.
ULP Bluetooth is being built on technology developed by Nokia called Wibree, seen in some quarters as a competitor to ZigBee. ZigBee, however, has been aimed more at home automation and control than at the consumer device market.
The reason for ULP Bluetooth is simple – traditional Bluetooth is fairly power intensive so it can’t be used in things like watches with small batteries. Thomas Embla Bonnerud, who is working on ULP Bluetooth for Nordic Semiconductor, says the “coin cell” batteries typically used in small CE devices will run out of power quickly if the power level rises above 20 mA. Typical Bluetooth uses run at 36 mA and ZigBee at 27 mA, he says.
Bonnerud, who came to the United States this week to talk about Nordic Semi’s plans, says Nordic’s proprietary solution runs at 12 mA by minimizing radio activity and by spending most of its time asleep.
Nordic Semi is starting to sample a new chip solution designed to work with Bluetooth ULP, although the specification won’t be complete until later this year or early 2009. The company plans a dual-mode version that would combine traditional Bluetooth and ULP, which would be used in phones, and a single-mode version that would be used in the CE devices.
You can have a sports watch today with a sensor to track your heart rate, but since it is proprietary it is relatively expensive and can’t be used with sensors from other manufacturers. Bonnerud says Bluetooth will expand the market for these kinds of uses because of the technology’s brand and scale. It means phones could record a runner’s heart rate while also playing music via Bluetooth. The songs could even be synchronized based on the runner’s pace, there could be a voice application telling the runner about pacing and distance covered, or it could even act as a virtual trainer.
Besides Nordic Semi, companies planning Bluetooth ULP products include Casio, CSR, Epson, ItoM, Logitech, ST Microelectronics, Suunto, Taiyo Yuden and Texas Instruments. ABI Research is forecasting there will be 809 million Bluetooth ULP devices in 2012.
Bringing Sight to Blind Networks
By Brad Smith
As wireless data usage climbs in 3G networks, especially with applications like video, there is a danger that an unseen blind spot in the carrier’s network could suffer serious congestion. That’s the view of Alcatel-Lucent, which says it has come up with a way of not only seeing that blind spot, but managing the traffic through it.
Mike Schabel, the general manager of the Alcatel Lucent project, says the blind spot exists between the radio access network and the IP core. That’s because the IP core treats all the data as mere packets, while the RAN requires immense resources for such uses as signaling.
“There is an intimate coupling on the wireless network between the application and the network itself, even though the bits are the same,” he says. “When you take an IP networking solution and mash it with the wireless network you wind up with a set of tools that can’t see from the wireless to the IP network.”
Schabel says research by Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs shows some data intensive applications like VPN or video can use up to 1,000 times more wireless network resources than others. If that isn’t managed, it can lead to severe congestion, he says.
Alcatel Lucent thinks it has solved that blindness with its 9900 Wireless Network Guardian (WNG), designed to give network engineers insight into the gap between the two sides of the network and allow them to manage it. Canada’s Bell Mobility is the first announced carrier to trial the solution, which will be shown off at the upcoming CTIA Wireless 2008 conference.
The WNG connects usage sessions to actual wireless network resource consumption, giving carriers the ability to see and manage the impact IP-based applications have on their wireless networks, the company says.
Reality of HSPA
By Wireless Week Staff
There’s always a lot of technology to see at the CTIA’s annual wireless show. This year will be no different when the show opens April 1 in Las Vegas.
Sure to draw crowds at the show will be the HSPA Mobile Broadband Pavilion, a showcase of wireless broadband services and applications from 19 companies put together by the trade association 3G Americas. The Pavilion will focus on focus on HSPA (high-speed packet access) but also will show how the 4G technology Long Term Evolution (LTE) fits into future network schemes.
3G Americas says the pavilion will give visitors real-life scenarios and allow them to interact with products and applications that are available today. Showcased will be many of the 400 HSDPA devices on the market plus viewer-selected videos and presentations covering technology tutorials and operator success stories worldwide.
Among the services on display will be an HSPA femtocell integrated with a home IP-TV experience on a mobile device and a PC. Other applications include file download and upload, laptop Internet browsing, streaming video, IP meetings and group calls. There also will be a demo of live video-sharing between a mobile device and a PC.
Wi-Fi Hotspot, 3G Data Use Increases
By Wireless Week Staff
A new study by iPass shows business users of Wi-Fi networks increased dramatically in the second half of 2007. The study, in the past limited to Wi-Fi hotspot activity, also was expanded this year because of the growth of 3G and 2.5G network access by business users.
iPass even renamed the study, calling it the Mobile Broadband index instead of the Wi-Fi Hotspot Index, because of the growth of wide-area network access by business users.
One the Wi-Fi hotspot side, the study showed the number of business users rose 89% during the second half of 2007 compared to the same period the year before. It also showed European Wi-Fi use growing more rapidly than in the U.S. and that London was the world capital of Wi-Fi hotspot usage.
Business users of 3G networks in the U.S. increased steadily in 2007, iPass said. The average monthly usage grew from 152 MB per user in the first quarter to 190 MB in the fourth quarter. Use by “established users” who had been using 3G data all year grew from 188 MB in the first quarter to 225 MB in the final period and some users even exceeded 2 GB a month.
Emerging Tech News Briefs – March 14, 2008
Companies in briefs: ABI Research, Sprint, Verizon, British Telecom, iSuppli, Apple, WiQuest Communications, Motorola, Avanquest Software, Sonim Technologies
• IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) use is expected to provide mobile telephone operators with a forecasted $300 billion in extra revenue over the next five years, according to a new study from ABI Research. The firm says operators like Sprint, Verizon and British Telecom will increasingly deploy IMS across their networks starting this year.
• The research firm iSuppli says touchscreens will generate revenues of $4.4 billion by 2012, up from $2.4 billion in 2006. “Catalyzed by Apple Inc.’s iPhone, sales of touchscreens using projected-capacitive technology are growing dramatically,” according to analyst Jennifer Colegrove.
• WiQuest Communications says it is the first company to receive modular certification from the FCC for indoor and outdoor use on its Wireless USB embedded solution. WiQuest’s product includes a Mini Card reference design with multiple antenna options.
• The Enterprise Mobility business unit of Motorola says it has developed the industry’s first tri-radio 802.11n access point. Motorola says the AP supports highs-speed client access, mesh backhaul and dedicated dual-band intrusion protection. It has an expansion slot so it can be field-upgraded with wide-area network technologies, including WiMAX.
• Avanquest Software has announced a software licensing agreement with Sonim Technologies for use in synchronizing GSM phones with a PC. Sonim says it will bundle Avanquest’s Mobile PhoneTools PC application with its mobile phone products.