Battle for Mobile OS Dominance

June 26, 2008

In a previous post I commented on how the open-source development community responded negatively to comments made by Dr. Ari Jaaksi, VP of Software & Head of Open-Source Operations for Nokia. Dr. Jaaksi suggested that the open-source community needed to learn a thing or two about the mobile space & that the community needed to change their current approach for developing software applications due to the out-of-date business rules that are still enforced by the mobile industry.

Two days ago Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone maker, made a very different statement when they made a move to buy up the remaining ownership in the smartphone software maker Symbian. If the $410 million deal goes through, Nokia will retain 47.9% majority ownership of Symbian. This move by Nokia indicates concern for those lower-cost mobile phone operating systems from Google Android & the LiMo Foundation.

With the mobile market heating up & businesses moving quickly to develop mobile applications it is key for Nokia to be running an OS which is widely accepted by the development community. Today, Symbian is used in two-thirds of smartphones being sold. Symbian’s closest rival is Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS, which has just 13% of the market. Of course, both Apple & Google plan to gain a piece of this market very quickly. Apple has been making a lot of noise with its new software release for the 3G iPhone & although rumored to be behind Google is sure to gain a significant piece of this market when its Android software is released.

The good news for application developers & businesses is that we’ll have options when deciding which devices & operating systems we want to develop applications for. Because of the increased competition in this market both device & OS manufactures will be more likely to bend & do more to ensure we are using their solution & not their competitors.


Internet, but no Voice in the Air

June 24, 2008

As the WSJ article suggests for some passengers having Internet access on your next flight will make you happy & at least you’ll feel more productive while flying & for others you’ll be disappointed that you can’t go anywhere without being tied to the Internet & your e-mail.

Beginning in July, only a few days away, a few domestic flights will be equipped with gogo, an Internet service provided by Aircell. For rates starting as low as $9.95 passengers will be able to connect their Wi-Fi enable devices (computers & mobile phones) to the Internet. For flights exceeding more than 3-hours passengers will pay $12.95. Compare those fees to the $15.00 you’ll pay for checking in bags on some airlines & what you are being charged for snacks aboard a plane & the Internet costs start to look insignificant.

Internet service will be limited to flights in North America initially. This isn’t due to any regulatory problems or concerns; Aircell’s service is only land-based & won’t work over the oceans & on other continents. Download speeds aren’t like the high-speed Internet connections that you are most likely used to at the office or at home. For tasks such as reading & sending e-mail & casual web browsing the speeds are more than adequate though.

What stood out to me when reading about Aircell’s gogo service was that it blocked against any voice traffic. So those voice over IP enabled applications on your phone or computer won’t work for you. It’s my suspicion that these services are being blocked because Aircell & the airlines are looking to add voice services at a later date for additional fees. Of course, I’ll give Aircell & the airlines the benefit of the doubt for now & hope that they are simply blocking voice over IP services for reasons other than monetary gain down the road. Given the limited bandwidth currently available, VoIP services would most likely not work very well & if they did they would hog bandwidth from other users. Not to mention the annoyance factor involved with so many passengers being on the phone. As if the guy snoring next to you wasn’t bad enough, now you’ve got to listen to other people’s annoying phone conversations too.

Now if only these planes that are being equipped with the gogo Internet service will be have additional power outlets.

Austin InnoTech 2008

June 23, 2008

It was recently announced that InnoTech will return to Austin for its 5th annual conference starting October 16th. This is a fun & exciting event for all those involved in the IT industry in Austin. It is the one IT event that that doesn’t require us IT Austinites to travel to the Bay Area too.

The event organizers are still in the planning phase & have yet to release the full schedule of events & sessions. However, from what I can find it appears that there will be a number of sessions & topics covering the mobile market space. Every where we turn the talk is about mobile. With Apple recently making its SDK available & Google announcing the release of Android it’s no wonder that the development community is getting excited about the mobile space.

Businesses are excited too because we’ve recognized the potential & never ending possibilities for the mobile space. Until recently the handset manufacturers didn’t provide us access & the mobile networks were often to slow to develop any applications of significant value. With open devices on the market & increased network bandwidth there are no more excuses & businesses are moving quickly to own a piece of this market.

We are looking forward to the mobile discussion that will take place at this year’s InnoTech conference & we look to play a significant role in this emerging market space.

Planning For Capacity & Volume

June 17, 2008

Today Mozilla is releasing the final version of its Internet browser Firefox 3. Mozilla was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the most downloaded software in a 24-hour period. It was reported earlier today by GigaOM that as of 10:00 AM PST when the software was supposed to be made available that all of Mozilla’s download sites were down. Right now I suspect that no one at Mozilla is worried about setting the Guiness World Record & rather they are hoping to simply recover & be able to support some percentage of the requested downloads that are queuing up.

It is unfortunate that Mozilla was not better prepared for today’s influx of download requests. On a day that could have ended with record setting numbers will instead be remembered as the day that Mozilla’s website was down.

Given the nature of our business & the many businesses that rely on us for service we treat capacity & volume planning with the utmost respect. If we are down, our customer’s are down & that’s not something we will let happen. Whether we are adding a carrier to our network, a server, or a new service we calculate & re-calculate the effect such a change will have on our network & platform. Each day we are running analytical measures against our platform to ensure that every moving part of our platform is performing to specifications.

Just this past Father’s day weekend we had another record setting day in terms of call volume & number of transactions processed. Leading up to this Father’s Day weekend our teams invested countless hours planning & preparing for the additional volume of calls & transactions to ensure the highest quality from our platform & carriers. We take these types of steps because our customers & their businesses are dependent upon us delivering reliable services.

Embrace the Open-Source Community

June 16, 2008

Last week at the Handsets World conference in Berlin, Dr. Ari Jaaksi who is the VP of Software & Head of Open-Source Operations for Nokia may have gone to far when making an address to the Linux open-source development community. Jaaksi suggested that open-source developers need to obey certain business rules that apply in the mobile industry such as DRM, IPR, SIM locks, & subsidised business models. Jaaksi suggested that that the open-source community needed to be ‘educated’ on how the mobile industry works since this industry has not moved beyond the old business models.

Jaaksi made some valid points about code forking that if not well managed can result in code fragmentation. However valid his points about code fragmentation, the open-source community did not respond well to his approach on ‘educating’ them.

Nokia’s N800-series tablet devices are running Maemo, a Linux-based operating system. If Nokia wants the community to accept this device & continue developing applications, enhancements, for it then Nokia needs to embrace the community & the philosophy that the open-source group is charted by.

When our subsidiary, Jaduka, made its first API available for use they were very in tune with the open-source community & what that community demanded. By embracing this community, rather than trying to change the community’s approach to sotfware development, we believe our approach helped contribute to the success of that first API & the many APIs Jaduka has since released.

It’s my opinion that companies doing business today must embrace the open-source community. Companies must understand that the primary focus of the open-source community is to improve quality, reliability, make things more flexibile, lower costs, & put an end to vendor lock-in. Many of the comments by Mr. Jaaksi this past week were completely opposite of this philosphy & if not careful Nokia stands to loose the many benefits of having such a large & powerful community supporting their devices.

No Such Things as a Traditional Mobile Phone

June 13, 2008

Today’s mobile phones aren’t just phones. Even the most basic mobile phone includes a camera, video games, texting interface, calendar, clock, etc. I bought my grandmother, who just turned 86, her first mobile phone a few weeks ago. It was impossible to find a phone that met my grandmother’s criteria which was simply to have keys with big numbers & a large screen so she could see what she was typing. Who knows, maybe my grandmother will be texting & downloading ring tones soon.

For some consumers, the mobile phone is seen as a status symbol. This is especially true for the youth market that purchases phones. For many others though, the mobile phone has become an essential part of life & is how many of us conduct our daily business. It’s important for a stock investor to have Internet access so s/he has realtime stock updates when not in front of a computer. It’s important for many software engineers to have text messaging as a way of being alerted of something not working correctly. It’s key for a sales person that is on the road to have access to e-mail. Because network speeds & bandwidths are increasing we are seeing more & more applications being developed for the mobile phone. As these applications become more available, consumers who aren’t already will begin to use their mobile phones for functions other just making phone calls.

How about this approach to using a mobile phone? In London, the mobile phones of teenagers & young adults who are undergoing chemotherapy are being used as notification agents to the patient’s doctor. These teenagers & young adults record data about their symptoms into their mobile phones & when specific symptoms were recorded the mobile phone will immediately alert the hospital & the patient will then then be contacted from staff at the hospital.

As the baby boomer population continues to age & require more medical attention I foresee more mobile-medical friendly applications presenting themselves.

3G to 4G Almost Overnight

June 12, 2008

Just as Apple is making noise & consumers are getting excited about the new 3G iPhone, Sprint Nextel & Clearwire announced a deal last month where they would be combining network assets to build a new network using 4G technology which is both faster & provides larger bandwidths than today’s 3G network.

Under the agreement Sprint Nextel & Clearwire will create a new company that has already received investment dollars totalling $14.5 billion from cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, & Bright House Networks, as well as tech giants Intel & Google.

For Sprint Nextel & Clearwire this is a win-win deal. Sprint has steadily been loosing market share after its merger with Nextel in 2005 & Clearwire hasn’t been profitable since they went public over a year ago. The goal for both companies is to get their 4G network up & running prior to the bigger wireless operators, such as AT&T & Sprint completing their newer & faster networks using a Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

With all the excitement from companies about the iPhone applications & technologies that they can now offer consumers because of the faster 3G network just imagine what type of applications companies can build for consumers with the even faster 4G network. Without a doubt, the mobile phone is quickly becoming the platform that consumers will use for the majority of their transactions.