All U.S. Android phones to be upgraded to 2.1?

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Feb 282010
 

Google Android

If AndroidandMe.com turns out to be right, Google and its partners could be getting ready to eliminate the fragmentation we are seeing with Google Android and its multiple versions (including 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1). AndroidandMe.com does not name any sources, indicating only that “several inside sources” have confirmed that “every Android phone currently released in the United States will be receiving an upgrade to Android 2.1.”

As we have seen with the upcoming Google Android 2.1 upgrade for the Milestone, not all features will necessarily be available in all phones due to hardware restrictions. Some devices could also require a wipe for the upgrade (requiring you to reinstall your apps and data after the upgrade). The update process could be OTA or PC-based; it will depend on the device.

Google, the device manufacturers and carriers are all working together to deliver the upgrade in the Q2 2010 timeframe.

Definitely good news for many if it turns out to be true… And good for Android to bring everyone to par before the next round of releases…

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Microsoft Windows Phone Starter Edition headed to emerging markets

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Feb 282010
 

Microsoft Windows Phone

Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed details about the upcoming Windows Phone Starter Edition. Following a strategy it already used for Windows XP and Windows Vista, Microsoft will offer a stripped down version of Windows Mobile 6.5 in emerging markets.

Two versions will be offered: One with Office Mobile and one without. Each will be available with support for multiple languages and with support for 2G (GSM), 2.5G (CDMA2000 xRTT, EDGE, GPRS), CDMA (Rev A, EV-DO Revision A), and TD-SCDMA radios. Noticeably absent is support for 3G.

Microsoft has already signed up a number of OEMs and expects that devices running Windows Phone Starter Edition will be available sometime this year.

Microsoft will also rebrand Windows Mobile 6.5 as Windows Phone Classic and continue to offer it in parallel with Windows Phone 7 Series for entry level and enterprise-focused devices.

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WIND Mobile offers CA$150 credit to offset ECF to make it easier to port number over

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Feb 272010
 

WIND Mobile

WIND Mobile has announced a new offer where it will offer a CA$150 credit to customers who port their number over from a competitor.

“We’ve decided to launch an offer with some help for customers looking to pay off their ECF with the incumbents.

WIND will provide you $150 in credit on your account to help offset the “sting”. No questions asked. Just port your number from any of the other operators before the end of March, and we’ll credit your account with $150. It’s that simple.

The offer makes sense when you consider just how many potential customers are under contract with other carriers and are holding off switching due to the cost of the ECF (Early Cancellation Fee). Suddenly, that hesitation may be gone. On the other hand, given that WIND has no contracts of its own, customers could use the offer to get out of an existing contract and simply sign up somewhere else later.

The offer is good until the end of March. The credit will be applied in installments of CA$30 over five months starting in April. Best of all, the offer can be combined with the current one month free offer. Existing WIND customers who ported their number are also eligible.

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Palm webOS 1.4 now being pushed out to Sprint and and other carriers

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Feb 272010
 

Palm

Palm has released the latest version of webOS for the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi. A number of carriers including, Sprint, O2 in the UK and Germany, have begun to push out the webOS 1.4 OTA update to their customers. Other carriers (including Bell) are expected to begin to push out the update soon.

Palm webOS 1.4 does not include new applications but includes the following enhancements and fixes:

  • Ability to record and edit video with the Camera application
  • Improved Calendar, Phone, Messaging, and Email applications
  • Enhanced notifications with LED in gesture area now lighting up and pulsing, new notification sounds and improved sound customization
  • Support for the Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta plugin
  • Improved Amazon MP3 and App Catalog applications
  • New erase options including: Erase Apps & Data, Erase USB Drive, and Secure Full Erase
  • Improved overall performance, including faster loading time for apps and increased battery life

You should receive notification of the update shortly after your carrier begins to push it out. You can also use the Updates app to trigger the update.

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RIM BlackBerry slider revealed?

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Feb 262010
 

The Boy Genius has landed some details about a future BlackBerry sliding-QWERTY keyboard device from one of its sources. The device shares more in terms of form factor with the Palm Pre than it does with traditional landscape-sliding keyboard devices.

Details are sketchy but here is what is rumoured. The device will have:

  • BlackBerry OS 6.0
  • GSM/HSPA connectivity
  • A portrait-sliding QWERTY keyboard
  • 802.11 n Wi-Fi
  • Display will be HVGA (360 by 480)

The device could be an evolution of the much-rumoured BlackBerry Magnum or Dakota. Another option is that the oft-rumoured BlackBerry Magnum (think of a BlackBerry Bold with touchscreen) will be released along with this device.

Back in November, rumours of such a device surfaced suggesting that RIM was now at the prototype stage. We could be hearing more about this device in the upcoming weeks and months…

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Paid apps coming to Canadian Android Market next week?

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Feb 252010
 

Google Android Market

The first Google Android handsets launched in Canada over 8 months ago. Since then, there has been no sign of any paid applications in the Canadian Google Market. This has deprived Canadians of some 40 percent of the 30,000 applications now available on the Google Market. It has also prevented Canadian developers from offering Canadian-specific paid applications. Google has recognized that this an issue:

“There are many factors that come into play to make sure the selling and purchasing processes run smoothly,” said Wendy Rozeluk, a spokesperson for Google Canada. “It takes time to bring support to more countries, which is something we are working hard to do.”

Better yet is the news that things could be about to change. Rozeluk confirmed that Google is working on the problem and could have an announcement as early as next week.

Source: MobileSyrup.com

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HTC Magic + Android 1.5 = HTC Magic+ at Rogers Wireless

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Feb 252010
 

HTC Magic

Back in late January, HTC and Rogers Wireless resolved the 911 call completion issue that plagued both the the HTC Dream and HTC Magic. The issue had been important enough that Rogers stopped selling both devices.

The upgrade for the HTC Magic came with not only the fix but the added bonus of an upgrade to Google Android 1.5 and HTC Sense. Now both are once again available but the HTC Magic has been rebranded as the HTC Magic+ in light of the additional upgrades it received. It is also slated to receive an upgrade to Android 2.1 later.

In terms of hardware specifications, the HTC Magic+ is identical to the HTC Magic.

The HTC Magic+ is available from Rogers Wireless for CA$79.99 with a three-year contract.

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Palm lowers sales expectations

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Feb 252010
 

Palm

Just days after a number of research firms predicted lower sales numbers for Palm and its webOS devices, Palm has issued an updated guidance report, cutting its revenue targets.

Revenues for the quarter and full year are being impacted by slower than expected consumer adoption of the company’s products that has resulted in lower than expected order volumes from carriers and the deferral of orders to future periods. Accordingly, Palm expects fiscal year 2010 revenues to be well below its previously forecasted range of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.

Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein indicated that the company is “working closely with carrier partners to increase awareness of its products and drive sales.”

Palm’s slowing sales could also influence competitors’ thoughts of acquiring the beleaguered company. Companies like Dell, Microsoft and RIM, which have all apparently considered acquiring Palm, may now be reconsidering doing so or considering doing so at much cheaper prices. Worse, it could simply disappear…

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WIND Mobile goes live in Edmonton

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Feb 252010
 

WIND Mobile

WIND Mobile’s Home Zone coverage just got bigger with the company officially extending coverage today to include Edmonton.

“A new day in wireless has come to Edmonton!” said Anthony Lacavera, Chairman of Globalive and WIND Mobile. “We are building an entirely new wireless experience in Canada, one city at a time by listening to Canadians – to their feedback, their suggestions and their ideas.”

WIND Mobile coverage in Edmonton

Plans and devices offered are the same as what was announced at Palm’s launch back in December.

If you want to get sign up with WIND, you can visit one of its two Edmonton stores (one at the West Edmonton Mall and another at the Kingsway Garden Mall) or one the several Blockbusters that will have WIND kiosks.

According to Chris Robbins, COO of Wind Mobile, who spoke with MobileSyrup.com earlier, the Ottawa launch is about two weeks away.

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Skype for Windows Mobile no longer available

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Feb 242010
 

Skype

Skype has stopped offering a Skype for Windows Mobile devices. The main page for Skype for mobile devices has a simple notice that reads “Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile are no longer available.” The FAQ provides a bit more information:

Unfortunately, Skype Lite – a version of Skype for your mobile phone – and Skype for Windows Mobile are no longer available for download from our site.

We’ve chosen to withdraw Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile because we want to offer our new customers an improved mobile experience – much like the version that has proved so popular on the iPhone, and which is now available on Symbian phones. Our focus is on providing a rich user experience that allows you to enjoy free Skype-to-Skype and low cost calls as easily on the move as you do at your desktop.

We felt that Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile were not offering the best possible Skype experience.

Specifically, it appears that Skype has found it difficult to keep the Skype experience consistent across a variety of Windows Mobile devices. Skype has also not ruled out future Windows Mobile versions but these would be done in partnership with carriers.

Users who have Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile installed on their devices will be able to continue to use them (Skype Lite throughout 2010) but there will be no further updates.

Source: WMPowerUser.com

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Apple iTunes reaches 10 billion song download milestone

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Feb 242010
 

Apple

It was just over a week ago that Apple began its countdown towards the 10 billionth iTunes song download. It reached that milestone earlier today.

It took seven years to reach this impressive goal. More impressive is that it took Apple five years to reach the 5 billion download mark; the next five billion took less than two.

Coincidentally, it also happens to be Steve Jobs’ birthday today. Quite the present to mark his 55th birthday!

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WiMAX lands in Canada

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Feb 242010
 

WiMAX has landed in Canada! Craig Wireless Systems announced yesterday that it had launched the 4G network in Vancouver, British Columbia. The deployment is expected to be completed later this year and will offer high-speed wireless broadband service to over one million people in and around Vancouver.

“Being able to demonstrate 4G wireless broadband this month really adds to the excitement of launching our WiMAX service here in Vancouver,” said T. Boyd Craig, founder and co-CEO of Craig Wireless Systems Ltd. “With the eyes of the world on Vancouver we’re excited to showcase how individuals and businesses will be able to access the Internet wirelessly at true broadband speeds using this revolutionary technology.”

For now, it’s early days and it appears that WiMAX will only work with WiMAX modems or USB dongles when it does become commercially available later. No specific launch dates have been disclosed so far.

Craig Wireless only operates in British Columbia and Manitoba so we’ll have to look to others for 4G deployments in other parts of the country.

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Motorola releases software update for Motorola CLIQ

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Feb 242010
 

Motorola CLIQ

Motorola has released a software update for the Motorola CLIQ which is sold by T-Mobile USA. The 1.3.18 software update is available OTA and comes with a number of improvements (but remains on Android 1.5 for now):

  • Improved battery life
  • Improved touchscreen display sensitivity
  • Better audio routing to prevent spontaneous speakerphone activations during calls and the random occurrence of music playback through the earpiece instead of appropriate external speakers
  • Improved caller notification, including improved better interface performance to reduce missed call notifications
  • Faster GPS performance
  • Support for additional media formats including .WMA and .WAV Windows media files
  • Bluetooth improvements
  • SIM card management including ability to import, export or delete contacts individually or in groups
  • Improved overall stability
  • Latest versions of Google and QuickOffice applications

As previously mentioned, Motorola will also release a Google Android 2.1 upgrade later on but has yet to provide timeline details.

Motorola will presumably offer a similar upgrade for the DEXT (essentially the same device) but has not provided any details yet.

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OTA DRM-free music now available from Rogers Wireless

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Feb 242010
 

Rogers Wireless

Rogers is the latest Canadian carrier to announce that it is now offering its customers over-the-air DRM-free music. The move comes only weeks after TELUS announced a similar service.

“At Rogers, we know that music is a passion for many of our customers, and we are committed to offering the best in mobile music entertainment,” said John Boynton, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Rogers Communications Inc. “Customers want the freedom to enjoy their downloaded music across multiple devices. The addition of DRM-free music tracks to Rogers urMusic, paired with the ability to order albums in advance of their release date, is a perfect complement to our music and Wireless Box Office(TM) services featuring exclusive service-fee free concert tickets through Live Nation, and various musical sponsorship events.”

Rogers’ www.urmusic.ca will let customer browse and purchase songs from their mobile device or computer and transfer them to other devices free of charge.

Single tracks will cost between CA$0.69 and CA$1.29 while full albums will generally cost less than CA$10.

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Global mobile phone market flat in 2009

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Feb 242010
 

According to market research firm Gartner, 1.211 billion mobile phones were sold in 2009, a 0.9 percent decrease over 2008. Performance in the last quarter of 2009 was a marked improvement and likely salvaged the year. In Q4, mobile phone sales reached 340 million, an 8.3 percent increase over the same quarter a year earlier.

The picture was rosier when looking at smartphones only where sales reached 172.4 million units, a 23.8 percent improvement over 2008. Again, Q4 was particularly good with shipments rising an impressive 41.1 percent over Q4 2008 to 53.8 million units.

Overall, Nokia remains in first place among device manufacturers with a 36.4 percent market share (down from 38.6 in 2008). It is followed by Samsung with market share rising 3.2 percent to 19.5, LG (10.1 percent), Motorola (4.8 percent) and Sony Ericsson (4.5 percent).

On the smartphone OS side, Symbian continues to lead with a 46.9 percent market share but down from 5.4 percent from a year ago. Research In Motion and Apple both recorded market share increases to 19.9 and 14.4 percent respectively. Windows Mobile in fourth dropped 3.1 percent from a year ago. Linux holds down fifth place with Android in sixth recording a 3.4 percent market share increase to 3.9 percent. Palm’s webOS held down seventh with a 0.7 percent market share.

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