Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skype Video Calling for the iPhone

Skype Video Calling for iPhoneSkype is one of the most popular internet phone services around. It gives you the ability to call, message and chat with people all from your computer without the need of a phone. There are also a lot of mobile Skype apps out there for the iPhone and Android phones that give you some of the functionality of the website. But now, the iPhone has something that everybody has been waiting for, full video calling.

Skype has just announced the newest version of its application for the iPhone which brings video calling to all iPhone users via 3G and WiFi networks. The app, downloadable from the Apple App Store, became available today and allows iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to make and receive free Skype video calls for the first time ever. With 25 million Skype users logged in at any one time you can easily share things with anybody in any part of the world.

The video calling feature will enhance your user experience with the Skype app significantly, and the app itself is one of the top 5 free apps according to Apple. You can now make and receive free Skype-to-Skype calls, call mobile and landline phones around the world and share more moments with Skype video calling.

According to Neil Stevens, General Manager of Skype's Consumer Business, "With video calling representing approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, our users have been eager to get Skype video calling on their mobile phones. By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles or into their living rooms via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share video moments wherever they are."

If you are like me, then you get bored physically talking on the phone. However, with this new video calling you can liven up the conversation by seeing the other person. Loved ones can see each other no matter where they are. If you have a loved one away in the military, then you can rest assured that they will never miss anything with Skype's video calling. You can even collaborate with colleagues back at the home office if you are, let's say, away on a business trip in Hong Kong.

Users of the app can place video calls over both 3G and WiFi, and the new app is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 4th Generation with ioS 4.0 or higher. The 3rd Generation iPod Touch and the iPad can only receive calls. Calls between devices can be made via the new Skype app for the iPhone and desktops including Skype for Windows 4.2 or higher, Skype for Mac 2.8 or higher, Skype for Linux and ASUS Videophone.

If you want true video calling from Skype, then head on over to the Apple App Store right now and pick up the newest app from Skype.

Source: Engadget
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apple's iPhone is Still Going Strong

Apple’s iPhone is arguably one of the most successful companies of our time, and if you don’t agree with that statement, than you can’t argue with the fact that in the past few years the company has been incredibly successful. The iPhone is one of the factors that add a good bit to Apple’s success story. The iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry and continues to do so. Many would say that it is the most popular and coveted phone right now. Well, according to DigiTimes, Apple must feel that their success will continue with the phone.

On Monday, December 27, the popular Taiwanese publication DigiTimes claimed that Taiwan-based suppliers could confirm that Apple was planning to increase its global shipment of iPhones for the first quarter of 2011. They seem to be planning on increasing the number of units from 19 million to 20 or 21 million.

It has been reported that Apple’s supplier Foxconn is shipping out between 14 and 15 million WDCMA iPhones, which is up from 13 million. It is also said that Foxconn and Pegatron are going to be shipping out 5 to 6 million CDMA iPhones. It is expected that these devices will be released in Asian Pacific and the United States (on Verizon’s network) in early 2011. A rumor is flying around that China and the U.S. will be the first countries to offer a CDMA compatible iPhone.

There have been rumors about Verizon carrying an iPhone for quite some time now, but the Wall Street Journal seemed to hint in October at the idea that Apple planned to introduce a Verizon version of the iPhone sometime in early 2011.

According to JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, if Verizon were to launch some type of version of the iPhone, there is a potential for Verizon’s stock to add at least $1.25 in incremental earnings per share annually.

For the fourth quarter, it is expected that global iPhone shipments are going to come in somewhere around 15.5 million. For the entire year, it is predicted that Apple’s total iPhone shipments are going to be close to 47 million.

Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said that his firm was forecasting iPhone sales to reach 13.3 million in the first quarter of 2011, and those numbers do not include what sales would be if Verizon were to release a version of the iPhone.

White wrote that if the number of CDMA iPhones that Digitimes claims to be shipping are correct, "these are big numbers and directly point to the growing popularity of the iPhone around the world in our view and the potential for a healthy upside to our earnings estimates.”

White said that during a trip to China, he noticed that the demand for iPhones definitely seemed to exceed the supplies that the country was receiving, as the exclusive official carrier of the iPhone, China Unicom, still seems to struggle to meet the demand for the iPhone 4. "For example, we indicated that the iPhone 4 was sold out for two months at authorized Apple resellers, Apple stores and China Unicom," he said. "We also mentioned that China Unicom was unable to fulfill approximately one-third of the iPhone 4 orders due to shortages." He said that China is still “in the early stages of catching ‘Apple Fever.’”

Earlier this month, Shaw Wu, one of Kaufman Bros. analysts, predicted that Apple would sell more than 62 million iPhones in 2011. This prediction did include Verizon contributing 2 to 3 million units in the U.S. per quarter or 8 to 12 million annually. Another analyst, Gene Munster, from Piper Jaffray said that Apple could sell another 2.5 additional iPhones next year if they add Verizon Wireless as a service provider.

iPhone sales are doing incredibly well, and it looks as though the sales will only continue to do well. Analysts are predicting that the first quarter of 2011 should be extremely successful. If Verizon can secure a version of the iPhone, I think that sales numbers will skyrocket. I know so many different people who prefer the iPhone to the Droid, but since they like Verizon Wireless service much better than AT&T, they settle with the Droid or some other smartphone offered by Verizon. If Verizon offered the iPhone, Apple would be sure to increase their iPhone sales by a good amount. The Wall Street Journal seems to think that Verizon should have some version of the iPhone early in 2011. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Microsoft Sells 1.5 Million Windows 7 Phones

On Tuesday, December 21 Microsoft announced that it has sold more than 1.5 million Windows 7 phones in the first six weeks of sales. Unfortunately, those numbers represent the sale of phones to retail stores and carriers. The sales numbers of devices actually sold to customers are most likely much lower.

"Sales are ramping well as our reputation is growing for offering users a unique experience and are in line with our expectations – especially when compared to other new platform introductions," Achim Berg, corporate vice president of mobile communications at Microsoft, said in a statement. "With a new platform you have to look at a couple of things, first of all customer satisfaction."

This is good to hear because there were very disappointing sales numbers when the phone was first released. The Windows 7 phone was built up by the company but only sold 40,000 devices on their launch day. The phone was available through AT&T and T-Mobile. According to a market research source who tracks phone sales and such, Microsoft spent $100 million on an advertising campaign for the phone. Just to give you a comparison, Apple sold more than 2 million iPhone 4s in just the first two days.

Roger Entner, a Nielsen telecom analyst, said at the time that, "It's early in the game. Not every product surges right out of the starting blocks. The first Android phone was not a big seller at T-Mobile."

He continued saying that the Christmas season would really tell how well the phone would do. "We'll see what happens with Black Friday sales," he said. "They'll probably cut prices like everyone else does. It's the nature of the beast. The only one that doesn't do promotions is Apple."

Entner was right. Microsoft has been much more successful since the slow start. Selling 1.5 million devices in the first six weeks is an accomplishment considering the original sales numbers for the devices. Berg did not discuss the U.S. sales versus international, but he did say, “We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product. We're in the race – it's not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we're in it for the long run.”

Berg continued saying that Microsoft had “realistic” expectations for its Windows 7 phones. “We started fresh with Windows Phone 7, and it's a different kind of phone. Measuring for success is more long term than short term," he said.

He further discussed the Windows Phone Marketplace, which now has 4,000 apps and 18,000 different developers creating apps. "We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning," Berg said. Berg said that sales are “in line” with Microsoft’s expectations.

Berg promised that the company is planning on releasing several updates for the Windows 7 phone lineups over the next few months. The lineup was released in October. Five different Windows 7 devices are available in the U.S. from AT&T and T-Mobile including the HTC Surround, the LG Quantum, the Samsung Focus, the HTC HD7, and the Dell Venue Pro. It is expected that Windows 7 phones will be offered at both Sprint and Verizon by next year.

It will be interesting to see if sales really do well over the long haul. Microsoft seems very confident in the idea that their phones will be successful in the long term. It’s definitely no iPhone, but I believe that the Windows 7 phones will do well and that the addition of phones from Verizon and Sprint will cause the sales numbers to most definitely increase. is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazon's Kindle for Android Goes 2.0

Kindle for AndroidThe Kindle, Amazon's electronic book reader, revolutionized the way people read books. The Kindle offered people not only a way to have their favorite book on hand at all time but also 750,000+ books. The ability to scan a database and find pretty much any book you wanted and then download it so you have it whenever you want is definitely a revolutionary idea.

With the popularity of smartphones increasing daily, it is no surprise that Amazon designed a Kindle app for smartphones that runs the Android OS. Since smartphones are basically a pocket-sized computer, why can't they give you books as well? That is what Amazon thought and that is why they developed the app.

Version 2.0 of Amazon's Kindle for Android has just crept its way onto the market, and it brought some friends, namely access to the company's vast library of newspapers and magazines, the ability to purchase content in-app and the freedom to choose where you want to store your app, even if that desired location is on your microSD card.

There are a lot of updates that come with v2.0. Among the new features, customers will be able to read the 100+ magazines and newspapers, sample and even purchase content using an integrated store, share book reading progress and double tap to zoom in. The app also allows you to access any books you have on your actual Kindle even if it isn't close by. It automatically syncs with your Kindle device to start reading where you left off, can adjust text size, add bookmarks, view any annotations you made with your Kindle, read in portrait or landscape views or tap on either side of the screen or flick to turn pages.

The Kindle store allows you to browse more than 750,000 books which includes 107 of 111 New York Times bestsellers, subscribe to specific magazines or newspapers having each new edition automatically delivered, or you can purchase individual issues. Like I said earlier, you can create social networking updates on your reading progress, zoom for images and graphics, and have the ability to use your volume buttons to double as page turners, you know, if you are in to that sort of thing.

If you are an avid user of a Kindle or the Kindle for Android app, then I highly recommend you update your app to the 2.0 version. It adds a lot of new features that many people will be impressed with and happy to have. The update is available on the Android Market now and requires Android OS 1.6 or greater.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kin Studio Terminated for Good

kin studio terminated
Just recently, Verizon sent out a letter to their customers explaining that the Kin Studio will no longer be in existence as of January 31. They also explained that any Kin One and Kin Two users will be offered any 3G replacement phone of their choice up until March 31.

On May 13, 2010, Microsoft released the uniquely designed Kin One and Kin Two phones. The reviews of the phone weren’t all bad, but they weren’t very good either. A lot of the criticism about the phones surrounded the required data packages that users had to take out and the pricing of the different packages. Critics were saying that the Kin phones did have a few extra features, but there wasn’t anything too special about them, and they were being priced as a smartphone. The Kin phones simply could not compete with the other smartphones that Verizon offered. After only 48 days of being on the market, the phones were discontinued. It was estimated that only about 9,000 devices were sold in that time period.

In the official statement that Microsoft made about discontinuing the Kin phones, they said, “We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch and we will not ship Kin in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current Kin phones.”

At the time Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said, "Kin is still an important part of our portfolio," but obviously it wasn’t doing too well because Verizon quickly dropped the prices of the phones due to very low sales numbers.
On top of the phones being discontinued for almost six months now, the Kin Studio is closing as well. The Kin Studio is a cloud service that allows users unlimited storage of their photos, videos, and contacts for free on Microsoft’s servers.

Although the Kin Studio is being shut down, the phones will still be able to function; there will just be lots of key features that will no longer be available on the phones. The Kin phones will still have the ability to make and receive calls, text messages, write emails, browse the Web, and stream music via Zune Pass. They will not be able to deliver other features though like the extremely built up social media capabilities that the phones were supposed to possess. Kin users will no longer be able to update statuses, post photos, or leave comments on any of the social networking sites. Updates to the home screen of the Kin phones will no longer occur, the feed reader for RSS feeds will stop working, there will no longer be any over-the-air updates, and any data that users have stored via Kin Studio will no longer be accessible. Users will be able to access this data until January 31, so there is still time for them to transfer the data to their computer before the service is permanently closed.

Last month, Verizon announced that they will soon be offering the new rebranded Kin ONEm for $19.99 and the Kin TWOm for $49.99 with a two-year contract. The phones look very similar to the original Kin One and Kin Two, but these phones will be available as a straight feature phone. This means that customers won’t have to take a data package with the ONEm and TWOm.

A Verizon spokesperson said that the new Kin phones are being released to “provide an option for customers who liked the form factor of the previous Kin phones but want an Internet-capable device that doesn't require a data plan."

I think it’s great that Verizon is offering such a generous deal to current Kin users by allowing them to select any 3G phone free of charge. I think that it is good that Microsoft is finally admitting true defeat with the Kin One and Kin Two, and I guess we’ll just have to see how the Kin ONEm and Kin TWOm come out. It won’t take much for them to be a million times better than their predecessors.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

According to Consumer Reports, AT&T Is the Worst Mobile Service Provider

att is worst service provider
Yes, AT&T is the service provider of the coveted and ever so popular iPhone, but many customers are not even close to being satisfied with the service that the company provides. Consumer Reports did an annual survey of different cell phone carriers and reported Monday that AT&T is the worst cell phone provider in the country right now. Consumer Reports polled 58,000 readers to compile the numbers for their survey. More than half of the respondents whose carrier was AT&T said that they owned some version of the iPhone, but they didn’t seem too happy with their service.

Consumer Reports continued saying that AT&T was the only carrier whose overall satisfaction scores dropped significantly since the survey was conducted last year. AT&T only had a 60 percent score for overall customer satisfaction.

The data that was collected showed that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their service provider than owners of comparable iPhone-like smartphones that were on another carrier. Electronics editor for Consumer Reports Paul Reynolds said in a statement, “Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans.” This rumor has been circulating for quite some time. It’s been shot down many times, but I guess it’s begun swirling around again.

“We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is, wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors," said AT&T in a statement. "Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation's fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent - the equivalent of just one call in a thousand - of the industry leader."

So how did the other national carriers do with overall customer satisfaction? Well, Verizon and Sprint were almost tied. Verizon had 74 percent satisfaction, and Sprint had 73 percent satisfaction. Consumer Reports said, "Verizon Wireless has an edge in voice service overall. Sprint scored better in some aspects of customer service, which is a remarkable turnaround from past years when that was a weak point for the company,"

The fourth top national mobile carrier, T-Mobile, came in with 69 percent overall satisfaction rates, making it the third top carrier in satisfaction.

There is also one regional cell phone carrier that did quite well with customer satisfaction. US Cellular is available in 26 different states and has an 82 percent satisfaction rating. Consumer Reports said, "It stands out for value, voice service, and customer service.”

Consumer Reports also went on to evaluate the best smartphones from each carrier. They checked out the Motorola Droid X for Verizon, the Samsung Epic 4G for Sprint, the Samsung Captivate for AT&T, and the Samsung Vibrant for T-Mobile.

It was very interesting to see that one of the most popular smartphones is on the worst national service provider. That is encouraging for Verizon though if they are be able to secure the rights to the iPhone sometime soon. AT&T needs to step it up, or they are definitely going to face some major issues in the future.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Free Smartphones at Best Buy All December

best buy smartphone deals
Best Buy is offering an absolutely amazing deal right now. On Friday, December 3rd, they kicked off their latest smartphone promotion. They said that they will be offering at least four free smartphones every single day through the month of December.

Best Buy will be offering a phone from each of the four major U.S. wireless providers. On Friday Best Buy's deals consisted of Verizon’s HTC Droid Incredible, AT&T’s Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, Sprint’s LG Optimus S, and T-Mobile’s LG Optimus T.
To get the deal from Best Buy, customers have to sign up for a new two-year contract, or they must upgrade their existing account for another two years. Best Buy says that they will only have a limited number of devices in their stores for the promotion. The offer is also not retroactive.

These free smartphones will be available from all of the Best Buy stores, all 157 Best Buy Mobile specialty stores, and on Best Buy’s website.

"We were excited by the amount of consumer interest we received around our 'Free Phone Fridays' promotion in October, so we wanted to do it again only bigger," President of Best Buy Shawn Score said in a statement. "People want smartphones and we couldn't think of a better way to end the year for our customers than to offer free devices every day in December."

Best Buy did something similar to this in October where they offered free smartphones on every Friday of the month, and luckily for those who are looking to upgrade their phones, the retailer expanded it to every day of the month in December.

This is a great deal that anyone who is a customer of the top four U.S. wireless service providers can take advantage of. I know that I definitely need a phone upgrade and will definitely be looking into the deals that Best Buy is offering. If you need a new phone, be sure to check out Best Buy.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

iOS 4.2 Supports New Network Congestion Reducing Technology

It appears that Apple is joining the fight in cutting down smartphone signaling with the company's latest iPhone iOs 4.2. Tests by Nokia Siemens Networks have displayed that iPhone iOs 4.2 supports a technology known as Networked Controlled Fast Dormancy. What the technology basically does it makes the network and the handset work together in order to create the best conditions for smartphones to be able to function quickly while at the same time having a longer battery life and minimizing network congestion.

Smartphones connect to the network constantly and are often driven by applications. However, this creates an huge amount of signaling as smartphones switch from idle to active mode in order for them to interact with the network. As soon as the smartphone has gathered all the necessary information it requires, it sometimes may switch immediately to the idle state in order to conserve your battery. Then when you want any kind of data from the network, your smartphone just has to reconnect. This involves the network and the smartphone exchanging many small signals.

Unfortunately, all this disconnecting and reconnecting takes a lot of time and can even cause a slow network response which can become increasingly frustrating. However, leaving your smartphone in an active mode at all times drains the battery extremely fast.

To overcome this problem, Nokia Siemens Networks has introduced a method that keeps your smartphone in an intermediate state as opposed to putting it into an idle mode or an active mode. From this point your smartphone can wake up much more quickly and also needs to send fewer signals to and from the network to start a data connection. This allows you to get a fast network response as well as a longer battery life.

The new Apple software release supports this way of working on networks that use this specific type of technology. Nokia also uses this technology in their smartphones which they released earlier this year. Testing in the Middle East reported up to 11 hours of battery life, and North America testing showed a 50% decrease in smartphone signaling.

As more smartphones and operators OS's incorporate technologies that improve smartphone performance, smartphone networks will play an increasingly important role in making your overall smartphone experience more enjoyable.
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Study Shows Women Prefer iPhones and Men Prefer Androids

nielsen survey about operating systems
A recent study conducted by Nielsen found that when purchasing their next smartphone, women are much more likely to buy an iPhone and men are more inclined to purchase an Android device.

Nielsen Media Research is an American company headquartered in New York City that researches media audiences and their opinions of television, radio, theatre films, newspapers, and lots of other media outlets.

According to the data that Nielsen collected in October 2010, 31 percent of women wanted to buy an Apple iOS device of some sort as their next mobile device, while only 22.8 percent of them were interested in a Google Android device. On the other hand, among men the study found that 32.6 percent were more interested in purchasing an Android device, while 28.6 percent said they would first consider an iOS smartphone.

The report also said that in terms of market share, iPhones and Blackberrys are in a “statistical dead heat.” Both of these manufacturers each claim 27 percent of the smartphone sales. Android comes in behind them at 22 percent, Microsoft Windows Mobile has 14 percent, and Symbian, Linux, and Palm systems have less than 8 percent of the market.

However, the survey did not just look at the current numbers. Nielsen realized that the important thing to look at was the breakdown of “next desired smartphone purchases.” The study clearly showed that iOS and Android were going to be the preferred systems in the future. Of those surveyed, 35 percent checked that they were most interested in an iOS device and 28 percent said that an Android device would be their preference. Only 13 percent of those surveyed wanted a Blackberry device, which was the next “most desired” smartphone operating system. Following behind Blackberry, Windows Mobile was the next preferred device, but it only snagged six percent of the votes of those studied.

Nielsen even went as far as observing which operating systems were preferred among different age groups. They found that every single age range was most interested in Apple iOS except for 35-54 year olds. This age group said that they would prefer to make an Android their next smartphone purchase. Although this was the preferred system by this group of individuals, the numbers were very close. The study showed that 27.4 percent of those surveyed preferred an Android phone, but 26.3 percent said they would prefer an iOS device.

Another interesting figure that the report by Nielsen found was that 29.7 percent of U.S. mobile phone users currently own a smartphone of some sort. This is the highest figure recorded to date.

Earlier this month, two other research groups, NPD Group and Canalys, reported that Android was installed in about 44 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, putting it ahead of Apple and RIM. Another study released recently was conducted by comScore and claimed that Android was the fastest growing operating system in the market right now.

It’s interesting to see the audiences that different operating systems are appealing to and how close the numbers really are between the desire for an Apple iPhone and an Android device. It was intriguing to see that right now in terms of market shares Blackberrys are tied with iPhones and ahead of Android devices, but considering the future preferences that people have made clear with the Nielsen study, we should be seeing a decrease in the number of Blackberry devices being purchased.

Of course this could all easily change, but for now things are looking good for Apple and Google. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out.

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