The word is out that Apple will be holding a media event on March 17th to showcase the iPhone OS 3.0 software. Rumors of what was expected to be in the next major release, as well as possible new iPhone features, had started making the rounds in the last couple of weeks, showing up on blogs such as Derek Underwood’s.
Is important to note that this event is not to release the software, but merely to offer a glimpse of what Apple is working on, probably to generate some buzz for the possible release of the next iPhone model at WWDC. The event will be held at Apple’s Town Hall building at 10 am PST on that Tuesday. No word as to who will be doing the presentation, but the money is on Phil Schiller.
This is sure to generate some excitement leading into the summer as this “sneak peek” may offer some hints as to what the next iPhone hardware will have to offer.
I guess that argument regarding whether the iPhone or the Kindle is a better reading platform is pretty much moot now. Today, Amazon released Kindle for iPhone. The app will give you access to all the same e-books that the Kindle reader will, without spending the extra $360 for Amazon’s device, assuming you already have an iPhone (…which is cheaper by the way AND it’s a phone!). You can read more about it here on Amazon’s web site.
One has to wonder if Amazon has thought this through. Sure you still have to buy the content from them, but I think many people have considered buying a Kindle because the e-book buying experience on the iPhone hasn’t really been worked out. Perhaps the reading experience is better on the Kindle, and that is what Amazon is betting the farm on, but I have had no trouble reading books on my iPhone, although it does chew through the battery more quickly. Still, at $360 per device, that’s a hefty amount of revenue to put at risk.
You tell us…now that you can get the same content on both Kindle and iPhone, which would you buy?
By David Klein
We all know the iPhone is sexy. Apple succeeded in maintaining its tradition of sleek, innovative design. A separate tradition that follows Apple releases is a slew of accessories. Every time I purchase an iPod I also get a matching case for both protection and to make it unique. Naturally, I wanted to purchase a case for my iPhone too.
I quickly realized that the iPhone is the first Apple product that is with me all the time. Of course we all listen to music on our iPods and other mp3 players (I owned a Rio 500 back in the day), but constant presence is not guaranteed like that of a cell phone. The iPhone is also more versatile. At the gym it’s an mp3 player. In meetings it’s a note taker. This is different when compared to an iPod which is always an mp3 player. One case will suffice. The iPhone can be more effectively used with different cases to match the tasks. Similar to my headphones post, I believe there are three case/task categories: style, gym, and productivity. Style – Moshi iGlaze 3G
The best iPhone 3G case available is the Moshi iGlaze 3G. This is my everyday case. It’s thin and light so your iPhone doesn’t become bloated. It has a circular hole in the back to reveal the Apple logo. It comes in black, cramberry, and white. On the bottom is Moshi’s logo which is gracefully placed on all of its products. You can see it on my review of their Celesta keyboard. Included in the package is a film cover to protect the screen from scratches and smudges. The iGlaze’s beat feature is the smooth, rubber material. For US$23 you won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend this case even if you already own one. Moshi continues to impress me with its beautiful products.
Gym – Griffin Elan Form
When I exercise at the gym I want to be sure that my iPhone is safe in my pocket. Of course nothing will stop complete destruction if one drops a barbell onto the screen, but it’s still possible to prevent damage from drops. Yes, occasionally I accidentally get something caught on the headphones wire and the iPhone does a little dance onto the floor. That’s why I need a case that’s more rugged than the iGlaze. The answer is Griffin Technology’s Elan Form. Leather on the outside; hard shell on the inside. It comes in both black and pink. The Elan Form is not nearly as smooth to the touch as the iGlaze, but it’s definitely harder. It’s very easy to slide on and off (compared to another case I had which actually required a nickel to pry open and remove). On Griffin’s website the Elan Form costs US$30, but you can find it for US$18 on Amazon. If you’re looking for extra protection for activities like running, biking, or lifting weights, I recommend this case.
Productivity – Pogo Stylus
I loved the Palm Pilot. I had one high school (yes I was that guy). I also had an iPaq phase in college. I never had any complaints while using a stylus. Now, you can use one with your iPhone. The Pogo Stylus includes two pieces: the stylus and piece of plastic that snaps onto the back and sides of the iPhone. Clearly this sounds foreign since we are all so accustomed to tapping on the screen with our fingers. However, there’s something oddly familiar about pressing on the screen with a tool instead of a finger. It’s faster, more accurate, easy to learn how to use, and it’s soft tip won’t hurt the screen. Within minutes you’ll be swiping across the screen like the good old days of the Palm products. The Pogo Stylus is great for taking notes during meetings or writing longer emails than you can normally tolerate while using your fingers. It comes in black, gunmetal, silver, and cranberry. Pogo makes different size clips for both the first and second generation iPhones and the iPod Touch. Although this is not exactly a case, I still find it attached often. For US$15 I think this is a fun way to improve the iPhone.
Following up on other streaming-television efforts, CBS Mobile has released application currently offers CBS shows, CBS Sports programming and content such as episodes of “Late Show with David Letterman, “Star Trek: the Original Series,” “CSI,” and “The Young and the Restless,” among many others. The mobile application also serves up a selection of shows from the CW including “Smallville” and “90210,” a half dozen shows from Showtime including “The L Word” and “The Tudors,” and a variety of CNET and GameSpot podcasts.
While the current programming selection is rather limited, the app can accommodate all the new content CBS serves up as it works to make more of its library of content available. The app uses the iPhone’s standard QuickTime player.
According to AppleInsider, CBS is currently pushing TV.com in competition with the Viacom-backed Joost and Hulu, a joint effort between NBC and Fox, to reach audiences beyond the TV and deliver a “direct to users” model of web-oriented offerings. Hulu currently lacks a mobile app for the iPhone like TV.com’s offering but Joost does provide a player app for its content, though it has yet to use the standard QuickTime player on the iPhone.
TV studios have rushed to set up their own web-based operations to create an alternative to seeing their content distributed (at no benefit to them) to web audiences via sites like YouTube. Joost, TV.com, and Hulu are supported by ads. Like YouTube, all three websites use Adobe Flash to deliver their video content on the web.
The TV.com application requires iPhone OS 2.0 or later to install and run.
If you’ve downloaded the application and played with it, please let us know what you think in the comments or forums.
Softbank Mobile, Apple’s iPhone carrier in Japan, plans to introduce a new program Friday that will give some iPhone handsets away for free with a new two-year contract.
The 8GB iPhone 3G handset will be offered for free to new subscribers starting a calling plan today, though this may be likely to disappoint those who paid the equivalent of US$235 (22,782 yen). According to CrunchGear, Softbank is also reducing the price of the 16GB version from US$350 to US$118 as part of the new “iPhone for everybody Campaign.”
The wireless carrier has also cut the cost of its cost of its maximum data plan rate from US$62 a month to US$45.60 a month. Voice calls and texts are free among Softbank customers, but if your friend or colleague is an NTT DoCoMo customer, charges can start to accumulate quickly at 20 cents for a 30-second call.
There’s no clear indication as to whether Softbank is cutting prices in response to demand, but Apple COO Tim Cook noted during last month’s earnings conference call that the company considers the price of the iPhone “clearly elastic,” meaning that every time it has dropped the price, demand has increased.
If you’re in or around the Japanese marketplace and have noticed this offer, let us know in the comments or forums.
Posted by: Tom Hesser
Date: Thursday, February 26th, 2009, 14:41
or optional shortened version… http://bit.ly/BhBBR
In the several years I’ve shopped at Best Buy, I’ve never signed up for their Reward Zone program. And maybe it’s time I did.
According to Macworld, Best Buy is apparently selling both the 8GB and 16GB iPhone 3G for US$100 off their respective retail prices. And unlike similar past deals from AT&T, these are brand new handsets, not refurbished units.
The catch: The deal is only applicable to Best Buy Premier Silver Reward Zone members, the “silver” status arriving if you’ve spent US$2,500 at Best Buy during a calendar year.
The other proviso: Customers need to have been a Reward Zone member by February 21st, so it’s too late to swing out, snag a MacBook Pro, sign up for the Reward Zone program and save that much more off an iPhone 3G. The price is also only good through February 28th, requires an in-store purchase and for the user to sign a two-year contract with AT&T.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this offer at your local Best Buy, let us know in the comments or forums.
Last week saw the release of Xumii for iPhone, a free social networking application for Apple’s heralded smart-phone. Xumii is not new to the mobile community. It can run on many of the mobile phones capable of running Java-based applications. It was only a matter of time before a version came out for Cupertino’s pride and joy.
Xumii professes to be “your mobile, social addressbook” and intends to be the default location for keeping track of your social contacts. By adding your account login for networks (also known as “communities”) such as Facebook, Google, or MySpace, Xumii can list all of your friends and display their current status messages or chat status. Tapping on a contact allows you to see their full status message, online status, an option to invite them to use Xumii, and lastly, a method of sharing media stored on any of your added “communities”. If you select a contact who also has a supported chat account, and is online, the option to initiate a IM chat will also be listed.
Xumii has some other nice features, such as a separate page for recently updated status messages, and a rudimentary listing of top news stories, but it’s greatest strength is probably the media sharing feature. By clicking on the Share tab at the bottom of the screen, Xumii presents you with a list of photo albums from Flickr, Yahoo, or Facebook, to mention a few, which you can browse and then Share with your contacts, even across social networks. So, if you have that friend who is still a MySpace hold-out, you can still share your Facebook pictures with them. Xumii also mentions being able to view YouTube video on their web site, but apparently that feature is not yet available on the iPhone. Perhaps Apple feels this would be duplicate the function of the iPhone’s YouTube app.
I have a few criticisms of the app presently, which are likely due to the fact that it is a 1.0 product. On other mobile devices, you have the option to change the status message on any of your “communities” individually, or choose to post the same message to all your networks simultaneously. Currently with the iPhone app, it is all or nothing. If it had to be one or the other, I would rather have the ability to change individual messages. While I expect this feature to be added, it does keep me from truly considering this a one-stop solution. Since I rarely post across all my networks, I will still have to use the Facebook app or AIM app to do this individually. Also, another minor quibble is that contacts that appear on more than one “community” are listed separately, and in the case of AIM accounts, listed alphabetically by their AIM handle rather than their real name, making searching less convenient then I’d like.
With the addition of some missing features, I think Xumii for iPhone can do a lot to reduce the clutter of individual networking apps and offer a convenient interface. There is a lot of competition out there, but Xumii has a lot of experience in the mobile space to leverage and will hopefully develop a strong, feature-rich solution.
With a new generation of iPhones all but certain this year, a discussion between analysts and Apple’s top brass has also dropped clues that the iPhone’s pricing may not be static this year.
According to AppleInsider, Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research mentions in a research note that a discussion with Apple COO Tim Cook, CFO Petter Oppenheimer and worldwide marketing senior VP Phil Schiller point both to an upgrade to the touchscreen device as well as to the possibility of “different pricing/price points” this year, with Cook “examining iPhone’s business model” for possible changes.
Apple execs Cook and Schiller have dropped teasers regarding 2009 as being “very exciting” year for the company’s handset.
With no concrete details emerging, Sacconaghi was quick to dampen rumors of an iPhone nano or a similar low-budget cellphone. Without naming a source, he gathers from his investigations that the company isn’t presently chasing such a concept.
Any future iPhone, Mr. Sacconaghi said, will probably have at least a web browser and access to the App Store, the latter of which has Cook, Oppenheimer and Schiller particularly “bullish” about the iPhone’s success as it gives Apple an advantage over rival smartphone makers.
One detail which remained static was Cook and Schiller’s continued insistence that the iPhone wouldn’t come with a hardware keyboard. The duo seemed to inflect that a fixed set of keys made it harder to implement different keyboards, especially where different languages were concerned and would also make it harder for third-party developers hoping to use their own custom control schemes. Using the touchscreen as the primary input improves Apple’s bottom line by letting it ship what’s essentially the same phone across many different regions, the executives say.
Were a price shakeup to occur, it wouldn’t be out of character for Apple. Each year of the iPhone’s existence has had at least one major price shakeup: the iPhone’s maximum price fell from US$599 to US$399 in 2007, while the iPhone 3G in 2008 not only reduced this top price to US$299 but switched the behind-the-scenes profit model from revenue sharing with carriers to a heavy device subsidy.
While Sacconaghi doesn’t make many predictions in his report, he repeats frequent expectations of an iPhone in summer and also believes Apple may update the iMac in March.
If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments or forums.
Adobe’s Flash Lite multimedia player, while still lacking iPhone compatibility, may reach one billion mobile phones by the end of March according to market researcher Strategy Analytics. In a recent report, the company said that Adobe could reach its desired target mark one year ahead of schedule given its recent support for HD video as well as Nokia’s agreements to install Flash Lite on its phones. Another factor mentioned by the company is the absence of real competition for Adobe’s Flash Lite player. Representatives from the firm went on to predict that another 1.5 billion smartphones could carry the software within two years according to ComputerWorld.
On the competition end, Microsoft is currently developing a Silverlight for Mobile Player for release on Nokia’s Symbian S60 devices and its own Windows Mobile Phones. Representatives from the company expressed opinions that the plugin won’t make a significant impact on Flash Lite’s current increases.
To help continue with its progress, Adobe will be demonstrating a Flash Player 10 for smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. Along with the Flash 10 beta, Adobe will also be releasing the beta of a new Flash Lite distributable player based on Flash Lite 3.1.
Even with the increase in phones using Flash Lite, Adobe is still thought distant from getting an equivalent application onto the iPhone. Analysts with Strategy Analytics claimed that Adobe is working diligently to get Flash onto the iPhone and is looking to have it ready to go much later this year.
Independent analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates claims that performance and business are the chief obstacles to Flash on the iPhone. In order to get high performance, Flash must run in the lower layers of the OS, which Apple restricts as part of its iPhone SDK guidelines. Gold stated that Apple will want to push its own technology, such as QuickTime, rather than depend on a third party’s development, despite Apple’s long history with Adobe.
As always, let us know what you think of the situation in the comments or forums.