Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Xohmwear Over the Rainbow...

Elsewhere in this blog we talked about most of the US carriers not really paying attention to user needs and desires - and that locking people into a specific plans for 2 years and locking them out of certain phones and applications forever would eventually backfire.

They laugh, "Haha!" (Sometimes to me, actually. I've gotten email through this blog from a few employees at some US carriers that are...entertaining.) "He who controls the frequency, controls the Key to the Garden!!!" they shout from their rooftops. Oh, how true it is...

...unless you leave the backdoor open, I suppose.

WiMax, the long-range, high-speed packet protocol loosely designed on the 802.xx family of protocols is starting to make its way out of the land of vapor and into the real world. You know something in tech is about ready to pop when more than one company starts to give it marketing names.

On the Sprint side, WiMax is Xohm - a $5B expansion of their network that other US carriers laughed at has a roll-out completion horizon. The first rollouts will be - gulp - this year in Washington DC and Chicago. In addition, Google as gotten all "I'm all about Xohm!" by partnering with Sprint to allow it to access its social networking repertoire and provide location based services via WiMax, as well as provide a platform for downloading music and video on the go.

Combined with the soon-to-not-be-vapor Google phone and some yummy VoIP apps, we have ourselves an interesting alternative to standard cell handsets. (Actually, some of those handsets are already here - check out the LG KC1 WiMax phone, which was released last year. All it needed was, oh, I dunno...a WiMax transmitter? Sometimes being too early to the party is as bad as being late to the party.)

Over on the PC and portable device side of the house, we have another marketing name: "Echo Peak." That's the name that Intel has given to its universal WiMax/WiFi module that it is embedding in its new line of chips. David Perlmutter, Intel's SVP of Mobility (excellent freakin' title, David. Seriously.) promises us shipping, available-on-store-shelves laptops with Echo Peak by...ahem...early 2008.

Oh look...up there in the wind. I believe that is called "change."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Score One for the Constitution...


Nice try, President Bush. But, seriously - its not like getting dad to fix your speeding ticket for you:

"U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

What this means is that the federal investigators must have court approval before they can force ISPs to turn over your internet records. Just like they would if, oh for instance, they wanted to go through your file cabinet at home.

Wow. Does this mean the founding fathers were right even in the digital age? Huh. Interesting.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Now we're singing the same iTune...


Ok - the iPhone. Nice trick, but seriously crippled by the singular carrier (haha. Get it?) and 8Gig capacity. The user interface is impressive, but you aren't satisfied with your phone very long if it doesn't - you know - behave like a phone.

Sales are shrouded in a cloud o' confusion (no doubt caused by the Reality Distortion Field), and Apple doesn't seem like clarifying -- which probably means that it is selling fewer units now that all the hype is down than the analysts were predicting.

How do you get your investment dollars back, wow Wall Street, please the consumers by giving them what they want, capitalize on the 110M iPods sold to-date and - oh yeah - decouple yourself from the carrier conundrum? Easy:

iPhone - GSM radio + 16Gig = new iPod Touch

Now this is what people were asking for all along. A wide-screen iPod video player with larger capacity that uses the new iPhone interface and allows WiFi connections to the iTunes music store. (The capacity needs to be more than that, of course - but Jobs is on a flash-memory kick. It will go up, hopefully.) They took the long, weird road - but they got there.

Ironically, if Microsoft had its crap together and didn't take baby steps into the consumer electronics world, they could have been there 9 months before Apple...which would have been interesting. The Zune had the wide screen, the nice interface - everything...including a crippled WiFi connection and a 2004-era capacity harddrive.

...it's always sad to see opportunity slip away for someone, but...ah well.

Now, if Apple didn't change the connectors on the iPod Touch from the iPod Video, I'm happy as a clam. (Something you'll hardly ever hear from me - so don't get too used to it.)