The growing portfolio of mobile Internet devices was a high point during a Webinar put on by the Yankee Group yesterday in conjunction with Trendsmedia and 4G World.
The Q&A with Andy Castonguay, research director for the Yankee Group, centered around the diversity of wireless devices, from smartphones to netbooks and wireless gaming consoles, and the extent to which enhancements to these devices are driving the necessity for 4G service. The event was moderated by Berge Ayvazian.
A number of standout devices were mentioned, including the BlackBerry Bold and Storm, the Android G1, the Apple iPhone 3G, the upcoming Palm Pre, the recently released Samsung Mondi and Nokia’s Symbian-based N97.
Castonguay said that faster processors, micro SD cards capable of up to 2 terabytes of data storage and qwerty keyboards are changing the way people think about their mobile devices. “Essentially by the end of this year, 75 percent of [AT&T’s] devices will be qwerty enabled,” he said.
He went on to elaborate on the continually blurred line between smart and feature phones, noting that many of what were previously thought of as high-end features are becoming standard. “The smart feature phone is really bringing up the overall user experience,” he said.
One of the devices that Castonguay talked about at length was the Palm Pre, which Palm has been cagey about releasing to reviewers and analysts. At Mobile World Congress, Palm displayed the device but kept it under lock and key.
Castonguay said he was allowed about 20 minutes with the device and was impressed by what he saw. “It’s very crisp experience, very fast, very intuitive. The rendering of the graphics was top-notch. All of its software is integrated to facilitate social networking and Internet search. The slide-out qwerty worked very well,” he said.
The Pre will be released exclusively on the Sprint network, allowing the ailing carrier a flagship device that will undoubtedly attract customers. “This is one of those devices, I suspect, like the iPhone, that will not only attract new customers but keep them loyal to that Sprint network,” Castonguay said.
Other highlights from the talk included the Samsung Mondi, Samsung’s first WiMAX-enabled device that was unveiled at the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show in Las Vegas. Castonguay also said the Symbian-based Nokia N97 was a device that appears to “do it all.”
He also said that BlackBerry’s new Storm is succeeding in attracting new customers to the BlackBerry line even though the device’s touchscreen has had some issues.
The logic appears to be that users who are new to the BlackBerry line don’t have anything to compare it to, so they’re content with the Storm, whereas longtime customers see a lag in responsiveness and prefer the Bold.