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cell phone software

Page history last edited by Brian D Butler 11 years, 7 months ago


Cell Phone software


see also : 

Mobile Web

cell phone handset manufacturers

telecom providers

cell phone software

tech trends to watch

cell phone adoption in developing countries

telephone systems around the world




Table of Contents:





Mobile Platform


Yahoo Opens Up Its Mobile Platform To Third Parties

Posted: 07 Jan 2008 12:00 AM CST

There are two ways for services to get themselves onto mobile devices. They either talk users into accessing limited functionality by browsing to their website, or they get their software (usually Java based) onto the phone somehow. And since the carriers still control every aspect of the mobile experience, getting that software onto a phone without their consent is difficult.


Google has experimented with it, as has Yahoo through their Go application. Get it on your phone somehow, and you can browse through various widgets - travel, weather, news, etc. Some consumers have gone to the trouble of downloading Google, Yahoo and others’ software on their phone. But now, third parties won’t have to jump over this hurdle. They can simply piggyback on Yahoo’s already installed software.


They’re relaunching the platform tomorrow. In addition to generic “improved performance,” for the first time third parties will be able to add their own software to the platform. It’s an open environment, meaning anyone can create a widget for Yahoo Go. Users will find them on Yahoo’s mobile site and can add them to their phone.


A software development kit for developers will be made available in the coming weeks, Yahoo says. Until then, users can add pre-made widgets from eBay, MySpace and MTV.





Android, open-source mobile developer platform, gives developers an early look

androidlogo1112.pngThe Google-led Open Handset Alliance, the industry consortium developing an open-source mobile developer platform called Android, is now providing developers with an early look at its software development kit (or SDK).


The hope is that developers will build mobile applications that make the platform more compelling to consumers and to the many large handset manufacturers, carriers and mobile software companies that are not participating in the alliance. Our previous coverage here.  The kit will support a touchscreen, a webkit-based browser, threaded text messaging, 3G connections, 3D graphics and a variety of file formats, including MPEG-4, h.264, MP3 and AAC. To spur development, Google is also creating a $10 million fund for promising new applications built for Android.  We’ve already written about one startup that appears to work with Android, a mobile local search company in stealth, called Whatsopen.com.



Can Android spur innovation like the Japanese mobile industry has?In this for-pay report, academic researchers in Japan and the US compare and contrast Google’s Android mobile software development kit (SDK) with the evolution of the Japanese mobile applications, as well as with rival efforts by Linux-based SDK MontaVista, Symbian, Microsoft, Apple and RIM. It concludes that Google has a long, hard fight in front of it if Android is to succeed. For a nice graphical excerpt from the report, see below. For a more optimistic perspective, see here.





Opinion of a VC: 2008 predictions from a VC: Android will succeed… 


It’s becoming customary among VC bloggers to make predictions for 2008. At the risk of educating my competitors, here are my technology predictions for 2008.

1) Google’s Android and the Open Handset Alliance will succeed. By this, I mean handsets will become more like PC’s and wireless carriers will become more like landline DSL providers. This is a bold statement because both handset makers (like Nokia) and carriers (like Vodafone) don’t want this to happen. So why do I predict a change in an industry where dinosaurs were surviving for such a long time?


Because a meteor the size of Texas hit the wireless industry in 2007 and it was called the iPhone. For the first time in the wireless industry, the handset chose the carrier as opposed to the carrier choosing the handset. The product was so impactful and well designed that some carriers agreed to share 30-40% of their data revenues with Apple in order to have the device on their network. That could be a very meaningful $200 dollars to Apple (rough math, based reports of 40 percent of a $30 data bill every month over two years). Why did carriers agree to that? Because the carriers did the math and the revenue share probably was equivalent to the customer acquisition cost they’d otherwise have to pay which, in the US at least, is about $200.In return for that bargain, the carriers gave up ALL revenue from applications, ringtones etc. The consumers wanted it, they gave it, and doing so opened up the market.


In doing so, they catalyzed the next innovation from Google. Android and the Open Handset Alliance enable other people to quickly create new iPhones. It creates an environment that lets developers focus on what they do best, which is writing innovative applications. So somebody can come up with a device so compelling that it too will be able to chose their carrier (if carriers need a nudge, Google can share search revenues; if carriers need a punch, Google will fund an open carrier). Once that happens, the carriers become a dumb pipe, but a dumb pipe with similar economics as before, because they won’t have as large customer acquisition costs.


The second reason carriers may embrace Android is so they don’t have to be held hostage by Nokia, the world’s largest phone maker which is exerting increasing pressure on carriers. Nokia is even building an ad network and making carriers pay them a piece of their ad revenues. Carriers, especially the European ones, are so dependent on Nokia that they may welcome a cheap Android phone that has a few killer apps built by young application developers.


Which brings me to my third and final reason why Android will succeed:the developers. They’re frustrated. It is frustrating to write mobile apps if you have to test them with 100s of handset each running a slightly different operating system, in slightly different carrier networks. Getting apps and phones certified is a big daunting, time-consuming and frustrating task. Palm will attest to that, having lost 25% of its market cap because it missed certification. Android sets these developers free.


So, between independently innovative products, a tough supplier to the market, frustrated developers and a tough carrier business model, this industry is ripe for big changes, and I predict it will start happening in 2008.



Open Network



AT&T flings cellphone network wide open  —  NEW YORK — Starting immediately, AT&T (T) customers can ditch their AT&T phones and use any wireless phone, device and software application from any maker — think smartphones, e-mail and music downloading.  And they don't have to sign a contract.


Verizon to Open Cell Network to Others' Phones


November 28, 2007


Facing growing pressure from regulators, consumers and potential rivals, Verizon Wireless will soon allow wireless customers on its network to use a wide array of phones and mobile devices bought elsewhere.


The change, which will take effect by the middle of next year, is a big shift for Verizon, the nation's No. 2 carrier by subscribers, and it moves the U.S. wireless industry a step closer to the model in much of the rest of the world, where consumers can generally purchase devices independent of carriers and then plug them into their operator of choice. (For what the change means to consumers, see this related article.)


Under Verizon's new policy, consumers will be able to go to virtually any electronics store and buy cellphones and other mobile devices for use on Verizon's network as long as the devices meet the carrier's minimum standards. Right now, Verizon Wireless customers have to go to Verizon's retail stores or those of its partners and choose from whatever phones are offered by the carrier. Consumers switching from one cellphone service to another usually have to give up their old phone and get a new one.


In the short term, the impact of the shift may be limited. Verizon, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, will continue to sell phones at its outlets as it does now. And because the carrier -- like other cellphone companies -- subsidizes the cost of phones sold in its retail network, few consumers may want to pay the higher prices to buy a phone from an unaffiliated outlet. It isn't clear whether Verizon will charge consumers using phones bought elsewhere the same price for its cellphone plans; Verizon declined to discuss pricing plans yesterday except to say that data charges will be based on usage. It also said it couldn't guarantee the same level of support for devices it doesn't sell.


What's more, because Verizon uses a different technical standard from most of its rivals, a phone used on AT&T Inc.'s network wouldn't work on Verizon's.


Still, Verizon's change of heart is the latest sign of how regulatory, legal and market pressures are forcing U.S. wireless carriers to rethink their traditional models and give consumers more freedom to pick their network providers, devices and mobile applications. In recent months, AT&T, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA all responded to the threat of government regulation by announcing they would follow Verizon's move last year to prorate fees for contract termination rather than forcing all customers to pay exit fees that run as high as $200.


In October, Sprint Nextel agreed as part of a class-action settlement to provide departing Sprint customers with the code to "unlock" their phones' software so the phones can be used on other providers' networks, though a California judge has yet to approve the settlement. There is activity overseas, too: Court action in Germany just last week forced Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile to back off an agreement with Apple Inc. to be the exclusive provider of the iPhone in Germany. Now, T-Mobile will have to allow the device on the networks of competitors. The company said it would sell the "unlocked" iPhone for $1,483.


Meanwhile, technology companies like Google Inc., eBay Inc.'s Skype and a host of mobile start-ups have been pushing operators to make it easier to get their devices and applications in front of consumers. Carriers often block, disable or play down features they don't want consumers to use. Over the summer, Google successfully persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to set aside a portion of the spectrum it is auctioning early next year for a new open network. And it teamed up with handset makers and others in the tech industry to launch a new mobile operating system, Android, to power mobile phones and allow a greater range of applications and services.

Those efforts have paid dividends. Two U.S. carriers, T-Mobile USA and Sprint, have signed on to the Android initiative so far.


Verizon hasn't yet signed on to Android and faced off against Google over the FCC rules, strenuously opposing what it saw as unfair government meddling in the marketplace. But over time the carrier softened its position, saying this summer it would agree to some of the open-access rules the FCC was proposing.


With its latest initiative, Verizon can open its network on its own terms, carving out its current retail business from the changes. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement that he is pleased by Verizon's decision and believes that "wireless customers should be able to use the wireless device of their choice and download whatever software they want onto it."


Verizon's move was called "a great step forward" by Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. "As the Internet has demonstrated, open models create better services for consumers and stronger businesses for providers," Mr. Schmidt said in a statement. "We are excited to work with Verizon and other industry leaders to achieve this vision."

Verizon said that early next year it will publish technical standards for the development community so that software, applications and devices can run on its network. The company said it will also make sure the new devices and features have no bugs that could affect other Verizon customers. It has put $20 million into its labs to support the new program.


The carrier's standards for devices on its open network won't be "nearly as extensive" as those for the devices it certifies for its own retail stores, Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton added.


There was little sign Verizon's rivals were planning to follow suit. Verizon's biggest competitor, AT&T, said it wasn't contemplating a similar move. Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T's wireless unit, says he doesn't see a need for the carrier to follow in Verizon's footsteps. "If there is an application or service people want, we make it available," he said, pointing to the company's variety of music offerings from Yahoo, Napster and eMusic as one example. "We are probably more open than people give us credit for."

Mr. de la Vega said a key concern for AT&T is testing devices rigorously to make sure they are compatible with the carrier's network, something he wouldn't want to compromise on. "Otherwise people will turn on a device and their voice mail or some other feature won't work," he said.


In statements, the other two major wireless carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile, touted their openness to new features and phones but stopped short of saying they would duplicate Verizon's move.

Still, if Verizon's position becomes the standard for all U.S. carriers, that could send ripples through the equipment industry. Handset makers like Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc. and LG Electronics Inc. would be able to market directly to U.S. consumers, rather than having to sell mainly to carriers. Also, manufacturers would be able to distribute phones to customers on multiple networks.

Today, U.S. operators generally strike "exclusive" handset deals with manufacturers so they can use their phone models to lure customers. For instance, Verizon Wireless is the exclusive carrier partner in the U.S. for LG's Chocolate music phone. If AT&T or Sprint customers want the phone, they have to sign up for a new service plan with Verizon.


These arrangements have limited the presence of some companies in the U.S. Nokia, the world's largest cellphone maker, has close to a 40% share of the global market but less than 10% of the North American market, partly because it is more reluctant to customize its products for carriers than its peers, industry analysts and executives say. A Nokia spokesman said it was too early to tell how the move would affect the company's strategy in the U.S.


The ramifications go beyond cellphones. Verizon hopes that electronics manufacturers will create a variety of devices for its open network, such as notebook computers with wireless broadband, personal music devices, digital cameras, electronic book readers and portable gaming systems. Mr. Stratton said he envisions even kitchen appliances being linked to the company's network one day. "It's subject to imagination," he told reporters in a conference call on Monday. "It encourages anyone who wants to get in the game to get in the game."






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