Webcasting bill passed: Pandora lives on

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Sep 302008

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate approved the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (HR 7084). This is good news for Internet radio operators like Pandora who were warning that failure to pass the Act could mean the end for them. Essentially, this gives Pandora and others additional time to negotiate with SoundExchange, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties, to reach an agreement on reduced royalty rates.

Webcasters and the music industry now have until February 15, 2009 to reach an agreement that would extend as far as the year 2015. These agreements will replace the royalty rates set in place by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) back in March 2007.

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Vodafone getting ready for BlackBerry Storm launch with contest

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Sep 302008

BlackBerry Storm

The BlackBerry Storm is headed to Vodafone UK. The mobile carrier has now launched a promotional page for the upcoming touchscreen BlackBerry.

Get the incredible power of the BlackBerry Storm smartphone in your hands. Simply register your interest in this new BlackBerry phone and we’ll keep you up to date with launch news as it breaks.

Vodafone UK is also running a contest for those who sign up to win one of 20 BlackBerry Storms. Unfortunately (for most of us), the contest is only open to UK residents.

So far, there are no details about any of the specifications but that’s not a big surprise considering that RIM has not announced the BlackBerry Storm yet.

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HTC expecting to sell up to 15 million smartphones in 2008

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Sep 302008


HTC expects to sell between 13 and 15 million smartphones this year. Most will be Windows Mobile devices with Google Android accounting for about 3.5 percent of production.

Only about 2 million devices will make their way to Asia; the rest are headed to Europe and North America. Those numbers could jump next year if the Conexus Mobile Alliance, an alliance of 10 Asian mobile companies (including NTT DoCoMo in Japan, Hutchison Telecom in Hong Kong, and Far EasTone Telecommunications in Taiwan) with more than 200 million users, decides to offer their users smartphones from HTC.

Source: The Boy Genius

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Microsoft: No plans to drop licensing fees for Windows Mobile

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Sep 302008

Microsoft Windows Mobile

Despite new competition in the mobile operating system arena, Microsoft has no plans to stop to charge licensing fees for Windows Mobile. Google offers its new Android mobile operating system for free and Nokia also recently started to offer its Symbian platform for free. In an interview with Reuters, Steve Ballmer said, “We are doing well, we believe in the value of what we are doing.”

Ballmer went on to wonder about the motives behind Google and Nokia offering their operating systems for free. “Handset makers are skeptical of Nokia, operators are skeptical of Google, I think by actually charging money people know exactly what our motivations are,” Ballmer said.

According to Strategy Analytics, Microsoft charges up to USD$15 per mobile device.

Ballmer also reiterated that Microsoft has no plans to build its own mobile phone hardware.

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128GB Super Talent SSD to sell for under US$300

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Sep 302008

Not only are SSD capacities always increasing but prices continue to drop. Super Talent Technology is offering its 128GB SATA-II MasterDrive SSD for under USD$300. A 64GB version will sell for about USD$179.

The two drives are not the fastest SSDs out there but still deliver respectable performance, offering sequential read speeds of up to 100MB/sec and sequential write speeds of up to 40MB/sec. They also come with integrated ECC, wear leveling and bad bit management functions to improve reliability and lifespan.

The 64GB and 128GB MasterDrive SSDs begin to ship this week.

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Samsung announces 8MP M8800 Pixon camera phone

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Sep 302008

Samsung M8800 Pixon

Samsung has formally announced its M8800 Pixon, its first 8MP camera phone. According to Geesung Choi, President of the Samsung Telecommunications Business,

“Now everyone will be able to ‘get their pics on’ so much more quickly and easily. For the first time you will have a camera on your phone capable of delivering the quality of image of a regular camera. The big benefit is not just the ease with which people will now be able to capture and share camera-phone shots, but the quality of those shots when taken.”

The Samsung M8800 Pixon comes with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and single band (2100MHz) HSDPA connectivity, a 3.2-inch WQVGA display (200 by 400 pixels) with accelerometer, 200MB of internal memory, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, built-in GPS/A-GPS, an FM radio with RDS, a TV-out connection, and a microSDHC card slot (up to 8GB). The highlight of the M8800 is its 8MP camera which features a 16x digital zoom autofocus, a flash and support for geo-tagging, auto-panorama shots, face, smile and blink detection and advanced shake reduction.

The Samsung M8800 Pixon will first be available in France starting in mid-October. Other European and Asian countries will follow shortly after. Samsung has yet to reveal pricing information.

Futureshop launches Cellshop specialty stores

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Sep 302008

Futureshop announced today that it is following in the footsteps of its Best Buy sibling and launching its own specialized mobile phones shops. Futureshop’s Cellshops promise to offer upgraded in-store Cellular shopping departments, improved software for faster activation and dedicated, Certified Cellular Product Experts for advice.

Streamlined for customers, the dedicated cellular areas in Future Shop stores are being transformed into hubs of information on the latest phones, rate plans and accessories. Gone are the days of wandering strip malls and dozens of kiosks for cell phone add-ons that don’t fit, or are designed for different models. Customers will be able to find everything they need for the phones they want in one area including top mobile accessories to go alongside the 100 different types of phones.

Cellshop’s Cellular Product Expert will attend Futureshop’s in-house Cellular University program to be trained on the over 100 phones and various service plans offered by Canada’s carriers, including Rogers, TELUS, Fido, Virgin Mobile, Koodo, and Bell.

Futureshop’s Cellshop is being rolled out to 12 stores in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal with plans for a national rollout.

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Toshiba announces 256GB SSD

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Sep 302008

SSD capacity continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Toshiba just announced a new 256GB SSD. Using an MLC (multilevel cell) controller, the 2.5-inch drive promises a maximum read speed of 120MB a second and maximum write speed of 70MB a second, via a high speed SATA 3.0Gb/s interface.

MLC SSDs are cheaper to manufacture than the older SLC (single-level cell) SSDs but are not as fast (up to three times slower) or as reliable. Toshiba’s new MLC controller is expected to address some of these concerns though.

Toshiba expects to start mass production in the last quarter of the year. Pricing was not revealed.

Samsung is also expected to begin manufacture of 256GB SSDs in the upcoming months.

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Bell and Telus in bidding war over the BlackBerry Storm?

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Sep 292008

RIM BlackBerry Storm

According to Engadget Mobile, Telus plans to offer the BlackBerry Storm may have been upset by Bell Mobility. While RIM and Telus were still negotiating, Bell is said to have made a higher offer in order to secure an exclusive on the Storm.

According to Engadget Mobile’s source, “this won’t be over any time soon.”

I can’t wait (note the sarcastic tone) to see what the BlackBerry Storm will go for, even with a three-year contract.

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Prima Cases for the iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Bold

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Sep 292008

Prima Premium Leather Lateral Case

If you’re still looking for a case for your new your BlackBerry Bold or iPhone 3G, head over to Prima Cases where they are now offering cases for these two devices (as well as many other devices).

For the BlackBerry Bold, you have the choice of the Blackberry Premium Leather Lateral Holster or the BlackBerry Premium Leather Vertical Holster Case. Both are made of Italian aniline leather and come with a non-removable swivel belt clip, magnetic snap closures.

For the iPhone 3G, there is quite a bit more selection. You have the choice of the Premium Leather Low Profile Vertical Jacket, the Select Premium Leather Lateral Case, the Premium Leather Open Face iPhone Case, and the Premium Leather iPhone Flip Case.

Prices range from USD$27.95 to USD$39.95.

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Telus to launch HTC Touch Pro this week?

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Sep 292008

HTC Touch Pro

According to details posted on Howard Forum, Telus could be releasing the HTC Touch Pro as early as this week, possibly on Thursday.

Pictures have also been leaked on the same thread (here and here).

And last but not least, the same thread indicates that Telus will offer the HTC Touch Pro for CAD$299.99 with a three-year service contract, CAD$549.99 with a two-year contract, CAD$599.99 with a one-year contract and CAD$649.99 with no contract.

Sprint launches XOHM WiMAX service

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Sep 292008


Sprint announced today that its XOHM WiMAX broadband service went live today in Baltimore. This is the first WiMAX deployment by a major mobile provider in the United States.

“This is truly an historic day with the birth of a completely new Internet-based business model that alters the dynamics of the traditional telecom industry,” explained Barry West, president of Sprint’s XOHM business unit. “Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility.”

Sprint will offer a number of mobile WiMAX service packages. Customers can now choose a USD$10 Day pass, a USD$25 monthly Home Internet service and a USD$30 monthly On-the-go service. A promotional USD$50 “Pick 2 for Life” monthly service option covering two different WiMAX devices is also available.

Right now, WiMAX device selection is limited. Customers can buy a XOHM-branded Samsung Express air card for USD$59.99 or a ZyXEL modem for USD$79.99. But by the end of the year, more WiMAX-enabled devices, including Intel Centrino 2 WiMAX notebooks and the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet – WiMAX Edition, should also be available. Sprint is also promising a dual-mode 3G – 4G device but reveals little about it.

As for additional deployments, Sprint has little to say right now: Additional markets are in various stages of infrastructure development for commercial readiness.

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CDMA version of Apple iPhone coming in 2009? (Updated)

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Sep 292008

Apple iPhone 3G

9to5Mac is reporting that Apple could offer its iPhone on the Verizon network in 2009. A new carrier is not news in itself but the fact that Verizon is CDMA-based means that Apple would need to offer a CDMA/EV-DO-based iPhone. Apparently, negotiations between Apple and Verizon are underway and are expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

According to 9to5Mac, it’s not the first time that rumours of a CDMA-based iPhone have surfaced but the latest seem to carry more weight as their latest source has Verizon credentials and he seems to know way too much about Verizon-Apple politics.

An announcement could be made as early as MacWorld 2009.

If Apple releases a CDMA-based iPhone, I suspect that both Telus and Bell Mobility will be all over it.

Update: We may to chalk this story up as nothing more than rumour. Back in August, we learned that AT&T extended its iPhone 3G U.S. exclusive to 2010 according to a report from USA Today. So, is the story nothing more than rumour or will we see a Verizon iPhone a bit later than 2009?

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Motorola to expand Android team?

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Sep 292008


Android, Google’s open source mobile operating system is getting a lot of buzz right now, but it is still only represented by a single phone, the upcoming T-Mobile G1, right now. But there are plenty of companies expressing a lot of interest in the new OS. The latest is Motorola.

Already a member of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), the company is now looking to grow its Android team from about 50 to 350, according to a report by TechCrunch. Whether or not it means that we will see Android-powered Motorola devices next year (or later) remains to be seen. But it certainly suggests that Motorola feels that there is enough goodness in Android to delve into it a lot deeper.

Another interesting note in the article is that both Nokia and Verizon were spotted at a recent Android developer conference. Neither company is a member of the OHA but you can be sure that both companies are keeping a close eye on the new kid on the OS block.

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China Mobile to offer HTC-Android mobile phone by end of year?

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Sep 282008

Google Android

China Mobile may be looking at partnering up with HTC in its bid to have a Google Android mobile phone out by the end of the year. Its original plan to use a handset with applications developed by Borqs, a Chinese company developing mobile Internet software, has run into delays. As a result, the handset could slip to the second quarter of 2009. Working with HTC could allow China Mobile to still meet its original goal.

It’s not clear at this time whether the device in question would be an HTC Dream variant which T-Mobile just announced as the G1 or a completely new device.

China Mobile is currently the only Chinese mobile carrier to be a member of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA).

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