Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 Technology Predictions

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Now that the end of 2009 is just days away it's time to look ahead to 2010 to see what will happen with our gadgets, computers and in the online world. 

1.  Beginning of the end of CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access the technology used by about half of the cell phones in North America is going to start heading towards the end days.  Bell and Telus have already started to replace their CDMA networks with networks using GSM/HSPA technology.  Verizon Wireless the largest CDMA cell operator is already planning a migration to a 4G technology known as Long Term Evolution or LTE starting in 2010. 

2.  No iPhone on Verizon this year: The biggest rumor about Apple's iPhone is when it will be available on a carrier other than AT&T in the United States.  There have been a lot of gossip that Apple is developing a CDMA based iPhone for use on Verizon Wireless.  With Verizon's iDont and Land of lost toys commericals pretty fresh in the minds at Apple, it's likely that things have soured between Verizon and Apple that Apple isn't going to make the investment to make an iPhone for Verizon's CDMA network when the exclusivity agreement with AT&T expires at the end of 2010.  It is far more likely that Apple doesn't see the point in sinking millions of dollars into research and development when Verizon is going to deploying LTE to replace CDMA in 2011.  This it not to say that there will never be an iPhone on Verizon.  AT&T is going to be deploying LTE at about the same time as Verizon.  Expect to see an LTE based iPhone in about two or three years from now on Verizon and AT&T.

3.  Palm offers WebOS based GSM smartphones: The Palm Pre the darling of the cell industry for a few months at the beginning of 2009 will break away the shackles of being a CDMA only device.  Since Verizon, Google and Motorola stole Palm's thunder with the Droid, Palm will need something big to survive.  Originally choosing Sprint as the carrier for the Pre didn't help things one bit so Palm will need to make their phones available to every carrier under the sun.  That means bringing out a GSM based Pre and Pixi to offer through AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, and Telus.

4.  Facebook IPO:  Social Networking has been something speculated to be something big enough to invest in.  The major media companies have invested in a big way.  News Corporation bought Myspace, Google bought Orkut, and AOL bought Bebo.  Soon people will be able to invest in the biggest name in social networking: Facebook.  Speculation about Facebook going public have been going around since Facebook created two classes of shares current owned by the owners of Facebook back in October.  After Facebook goes for sale on the stock market, so will developers of facebook applications, and let the next bubble inflate.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Look Back At The Tech of 2009

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As families gather around decorated trees to unwrap both techie and non techie presents just before 2009 comes to a close a look back shows that 2009 was the year of...

1. iPhone Competitors

At the opening of 2009 at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, a company that many thought to be long left for dead unveiled a phone that promised to give Apple's iPhone would finally get some serious competition.  Where HTC's G1 on T-Mobile powered by Google's Android operating system failed to capture consumers' pocketbooks, Palm's new smartphone named the Pre became newest phone to get the 'iPhone killer' name.  Despite positive reviews for the WebOS that powers the pre, and strong demand when the phone launched in June, interest in the Pre has trailed off into obscurity, just as Motorola and Verizon start promotion for the Droid powered by Android which towards the end of 2009 is finally getting decent handsets that can properly run Android.  With more handsets from more manufacturers running Android, not too many people are talking about WebOS as 2009 draws to a close

2. Netbooks everywhere

The market for Netbooks exploded in 2009, cash-strapped consumers bought up netbooks as their disposable income for things like full sized notebook and desktop PC's evaporated.  Cell phone carriers began offering netbooks equipped with 3G connectivity in exchange for making a two year committment to 3G service from any of the cellular carriers.

3. Apple Fanboys Shattered Dreams

At Apple's last appearance at the annual MacWorld conference the much rumoured Apple tablet would be unveiled but that didn't happen, mid year at the World Wide Developers Conference Apple's tablet didn't become a reality.  The diehards are still waiting and rumourmongering about the Apple tablet.  At the product announcement on September 9th it was widely speculated from the date of the announcement 9-9-9 that the entire catelog of songs by the Beatles would be available for sale in the iTunes music store.  That again didn't happen.  One more thing... Apple fanboys were left with some pretty long looking faces in 2009.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Does Wind Mobile's Phones and Plans Mean For Consumers?

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Wind Mobile Canada's delayed but still first out of the gate new cell phone carrier unveiled their plans and the phones that they will be offering.  As expected Wind Mobile is undercutting the incumbent cell carriers with plans at 15.00 35.00 and 45.00 dollars per month.  All three plans offer free calling between Wind Mobile cell phones anywhere in Canada.  The 35.00 dollar per month plan offers free calling within the province where the subscriber lives provided that the subscriber is with in a Wind Mobile coverage area.  The 45.00 dollar per month plan offers free calling within Canada.  All three plans offer free unlimited incoming text messages. 

The selection of phones is pretty paltry right now, only four models of handsets are currently available.  A touch screen phone from Huawei, a chinese company, the Gravity 2 from Samsung, HTC Maple running Windows mobile, and the Blackberry Bold 9700.  What is unique to Wind Mobile is the requirement to buy a phone outright when signing up for service, phones are not subidized in exchange subscribers are on month by month billing and not locked into a contract for three years. 

Certainly the plans will entice consumers to switch, but paying the full cost of the phone will make many think twice.  That will give the incumbent carriers pleny of ammo in the ad war that is sure come in the new year.  Bell and Telus is sure to take aim with the 'C' word, coverage.  Wind Mobile currently covers Toronto and Calgary, Wind Mobile will be roaming on the Rogers network everywhere else in Canada.  Now the first new cell carrier has unveiled their service, two more to go, cell phone service is on it's way to getting better.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is Bell Mobility Planning an Expansion Into Saskatchewan?

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At a time when cellular subscribers across Canada await new competitors to provide cell service, meanwhile in Saskatchewan one of the new carriers arriving soon is actually one of the long time established cell carriers just about everywhere else in Canada.  Undoubtly many in land of the living skies have seen the commericals advertising for the iPhone on Telus and Bell on CTV and Global broadcasts including locally produced newscasts.  While Telus offers cell phone service in Saskatchewan, they are not able to offer the iPhone because the only GSM/HSPA network in the province is owned by Rogers, which Telus will not enter into a roaming agreement with.

Bell has never entered the Cellular market in Saskatchewan because of the network infrastructure sharing agreement they signed with Sasktel years ago.  The telco's share each other's networks in exchange they don't compete in each others service areas.  It could be argued that Bell has already effectively ended that agreement since their satellite TV services competes against Sasktel Max.  Bell mobility has brought in sideline revenue selling cell phones to affiliated carriers such as Sasktel and MTS, as Bell moves from CDMA to GSM/HSPA that's revenue that killed off as long as the regional carriers choose to stay on CDMA.

If or more likely when Bell mobility starts putting up towers in Saskatchewan, Telus is likely to share a GSM/HSPA network, so that Telus can offer their full lineup GSM/HSPA handsets.  Bell and Telus can bring a much better varitey of cell phones, smartphones, including the iPhone, Motorola Milestone (GSM varient of the Droid) and most other Android based smartphones that Rogers doesn't already offer.  Bell is a member of the Inukshuk alliance which offers WiMax based broadband service in the rest of Canada.  Bell mobility entering Saskatchewan will finally mean WiMax will finally come to the province.  Many from other provinces may have horror stories about high prices and poor customer service they get from Bell, but at least it competes against the high prices and poor customer service that we get from the service providers we have now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Globalive's Wind Mobile Will Get To Launch After All

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The recent decicion by the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission that prevented Globalive from launching their Wind Mobile cell phone service has been overtuned. The CRTC decided that because the ownership structure of Globalive doesn't have enough Canadian ownership and could not launch a national cell phone network.  Industry Minister Tony Clement has upheld Industry Canada's licensing of Globalive clearing the company to launch their cell phone network as soon as this Monday (December, 14th 2009) in Toronto and Calgary.

The incumbent cellular carriers are already voicing their displeasure over Globalive's reinstatement of their license.  Rogers chief executive officer Nadir Mohamed stated that the Canada's wireless market could not sustain a fourth national service.  Several years ago an attempt was made to introduce more compeition in the cell phone market in Canada.  In 1995 Microcell's Fido and Clearnet were licensed to provide cellular services that launched in 1997.  The costs buying the licenses in auctions and building cellular networks ran the startups into too much debt.  In 2000 Clearnet was bought up by Telus, which expanded Telus from their base of operations in Alberta and British Columbia into a national carrier.  In 2003 Microcell became the prize in a war of hostile takeover bids from Telus and Rogers. 

The launches of Wind Mobile and three other startup cellular carriers promised to be different that those of Clearnet and Microcell.  Canada's cell phone market is a lot larger now, there's about three times the number of cell phone subscribers now than there were in 1997.  Any claim that Canada's market won't be able to sustain any more cell phone carriers is questionable at best.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Playing The Odds on the Apple Tablet Computer

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After Apple's reluctance to pull the trigger and release the often rumored tablet computer in time for Christmas shopping season, rumours of a launch in March or April are springing up.  Lately the Apple tablet has been hyped as going to do to the book publishing industry what the iPod did to the music industry.  Just as gambling industry bookmakers give odds on sporting events here's the odds for certain rumors about the upcoming iPad as some people call it.

500-1 Apple releases the tablet at a reasonable price point something like $499 or less.  Being priced so above the rest of the PC industry doesn't give Apple a cachet of geek chic, it just makes them look greedy.

200-1 The Apple tablet will run a full version of OS X.  The smart money goes to Apple putting an iPhone/iPod Touch interface to pander to the masses who have bought those devices, instead of a device that bridges people to the full OS X experience.

80-1 Wireless data service provided Verizon Wireless, Verizon hasn't won any fans in Cupertino with their "land of misfit toys" and "There's a Map for That" ads, the 3G service is going to be coming from AT&T

20-1 Screen using OLED or colour e-ink technology, given how much of a power hog that backlighting systems for LCD panels can be.  If Apple goes to a small nonreplaceable battery they'll need some new display screen technology.

4-1 e-books, and audiobooks will come to the iTunes store.  Apple will need to sell books for their device designed for reading.

2-1 After feeding the rumour mill some more by constant denials, Apple will have a media event to introduce new products such as new macbooks and iPods but no tablet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Droid, Milestone facts for Canadians

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Motorola's Droid smartphone on Verizon Wireless has to be the most advertised smartphone since the original iPhone a little over two years ago.  Motorola is putting out two versions of this smartphone the Droid the one that is already well known, that runs on Verizon's CDMA network and the Milestone that runs on GSM/HSPA networks.  Telus Mobility has already announced that they will be the exclusive carrier for the Milestone on their new HSPA network.

In some areas of Canada, Rogers is the only GSM/HSPA network available with the other cellular network available from a regional incument carrier such MTS or Sasktel who will be choosing to stay on CDMA for the forseeable future, people in these areas are out of luck when it comes to the Droid/Milestone since Telus rents the cellular network infrastructure in those areas where they don't own their own.  Exclusivity agreements similar to what Motorola has with Telus prevent offering the CDMA based Droid in areas where Telus doesn't offer HSPA service.  Palm makes a GSM version of the Pre for the European markets but is prevented by exclusivity agreements with Bell Mobility and Sprint from offering the GSM version in North America.

Former customers of Alltel (a former regional cell phone carrier in the United States) used to complain about the poor selection of phones until they got bought out by Verizon. For regional carrier subscribers in Canada, not having access to the latest selection of smart phones is just the price of subscribing to a regional carrier.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2009 Prognostications Redux

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The close of 2009 just a few weeks away, it's time once again to check up on predictions I made last year at this time and see how accurate my digital clairvoyance really was, so here's what I thought was going to happen in 2009 and what actually did happen:

1. Handset makers start dumping Windows Mobile and go to Google Android

On this one I get half a mark, while handset manufacturers and cell carriers have started to adopt Android, nobody has dropped Windows Mobile yet, that could still come in 2010.  Windows Mobile 6.5 was released to tepid reviews and Microsoft promises that Windows Mobile 7 will be better, Microsoft had better deliver.  Android will be seen by handset manufacturers as what they need to compete against Apple's iPhone.

2. Canadian cell phone carriers start marketing blitz in advance of arrival of competition

I wouldn't exactly call what the cell carriers have done to get ready for new competition as a marketing blitz, Canada's incumbent cellular carriers have dropped the system access fee on new cell phone accounts which is a good thing, Bell and Telus have started their change over from CDMA to GSM/HSPA which is another good thing because it moves Canada to a single standard system for Cellular communications, which is another good thing because it allows an unlocked phone to be used on any network. The cell carriers have gone and cried foul to the CRTC about the ownership structure of one of the new competitive carriers Wind Mobile, their decicion delays their launch well into 2010.  The incumbents have also gone after each other about their advertising claims this is another bad thing for subscribers, because the costs of all lawsuit damage rewards are ultimately will get passed down to you know who: cell phone subscribers.

3. Yahoo Fire Sale

This one is one I'm glad I got wrong, Yahoo getting bought up and sold off would have been a tragic end of one of the Internet's pioneering brands. A search deal with Microsoft is already threating to kill Yahoo's core product, web search.  The future of Yahoo as just an online media company will be uncertain at best.  This is a story that will conclude in 2010.

4. Apathy towards Windows 7 gains momentum

This is the prediction that I was the most wrong about.  Those who had to endure Windows Vista jumped over to Windows 7 in large numbers.  The Windows XP hold outs are making the switch as well.  2010 will be finally be the year the corporate IT community finally makes a switch to another operating system.  Windows 7, Mac OS X or something else. 

Half marks on a couple of predictions and complete wrong on a couple more shows that 2009 was an eventful year in tech, just as 2010 promises to be.  Stay tuned for the predictions for 2010.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Will It Take For Nokia To Make A Comeback In North America

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About ten years ago when cell phones were used to make phone calls many cell phone owners in the United States an Canada used Nokia phones.  Back then the World's leader in cell phone was the leader in market share in North America.  Oh how times have changed, after getting mowed over by Motorola's razr, a price spat with Qualcomm, iPhone, Palm Pre and Google Andorid have relegated Nokia's handsets to the line-ups of convenience store prepaid services. 

If Nokia's executives want to get their phones back into hands of cell phone yakkers then there's much that has to be done to make there phones and their brand desireable in North America once again.  Nokia's Symbian OS may have a following in Europe, but it's nothing but dead weight in their attempt to sell a Smartphone in North America.  If Nokia doesn't put out a Android based handset in the year it's probably going to be game over for Nokia this side of the Atlantic. 

Even if just one phone has just one feature that no other phone has, cell phone subscribers will grab up the phones and bring Nokia back into the game.  One flaw that iPhones and other touch screen phones has is the fragile nature of their screens.  One doesn't have to look very far to find a smartphone with a shattered screen.  Just by bringing a shock resistant touch screen phone would attract subscribers back to Nokia

One of the things that lead to Nokia's fall from grace is their focus on the low end of the market.  Producing phones for prepaid MNVO's Nokia has become a ghetto brand.  Nokia will need to get phones into the lineups of the incumbent cell carriers once again, but for the incumbent carriers Nokia handsets would be a gamble since most of the subscribers they are trying to attract want iPhones, Palm Pre's or an Android smartphone.  For Nokia something has to be done to make the incumbent carriers to take that gamble, Nokia's future in North America depends on it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SprintNextel To Kill QChat

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America's third largest cellular carrier SprintNextel has announced that the Sprint branded QChat two way radio service over the CDMA network will come to an end.  No new phones with the feature will be sold effective immediately.  Users of the service will be able to continue to use the service for the remaining terms of their contracts.  The walkie talkie service sold under the Nextel and Boost Mobile brands using iDen technology will remain in service for years to come. 

Two way radio service over CDMA cellular networks that QChat is based on is sold as a service called 10-4 in Canada by Bell, Bell Aliant, MTS and Sasktel.  With the end of Sprint's QChat and Bell's move from CDMA to GSM/HSPA leaves the future of 10-4 uncertain.  Sanyo and Samsung being the only manufactuers to produce handsets for QChat and 10-4 likely to drop the feature from handsets in the short term.  Two way radio service by Telus Mobility sold under the Mike brand is not affect as it uses iDen technology.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bell Finally Joins Android Bandwagon

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Posters that have been appearing at Bell stores are announcing Bell Mobility will be the exclusive carrier for Samsung's first Android based smartphone called the Galaxy.  The Galaxy uses Bell's new HSPA network, runs Android 1.5, has a 5 MP digital camera, has WiFi and has a microDS slot for memory expansion.  This announcement from Bell now brings all three of Canada's national cell phone carriers into the Android camp.  Telus recently announced their exclusive agreement to bring the Motorola Milestone (The HSPA version of the Droid) North of the 49th.  Subscribers to Canada's two regional carriers, MTS and Sasktel still do not have an Android smartphone of their own, something that probably won't change until the exclusivity agreements expire in two to three years.  Those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan who are looking at an Android based smartphone have one choice, Rogers

Having a Tripoly of national cell phone carriers in this country has led to subscribers of regional carriers and Mobile Network Virtual Operating (MNVO's) getting shut out of getting the cool in demand smartphones.  Exclusivity agreements between handset makers and the big national carriers is yet one of the signs that competition is long overdue.  Just the threat of competition has made the big national carriers drop the much hated system access fee, and the absolutely fraudlient 911 fee.  In order for the consumer to pick a phone then pick a carrier it's starting to happen, with Bell and Telus' new GSM/HSPA network it's now possible to to swich carriers just by swiching a SIM card in an unlocked phone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

News Corp's Stupid Gamble - Delisting From Google

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Reports are surfacing that News Corporation is considering any offers for payment in exchange for de-listing it's newspapers and Fox news from Google News.  It is said that Microsoft is talking to News Corp about a deal where News Corp will make it's properties available through Microsoft's Bing search engine.  Bing's market share in search has fallen into the mid single digits after capturing 12 percent of all web searches when Microsoft launched Bing back in the summer.

For News Corp and other struggling news outlets the thought of the kind of money that Microsoft can bring to the table is at the very least worth considering, any such move to delist from Google may end up being hurtful in the end.  It's not just Google's web search market share of 80 percent or more that would make delisting from Google foolish to say the least.  People who use competing search engines often just use them as a second resort after searching Google first. 

A quick injection of cash from Microsoft may help News Corp in the short term, but in the long run sticking their online news properties on a search engine that is only capturing five percent of all web searches will rob them of the very thing that all online and offline media companies fight over, eyeballs.  Online advertising hasn't paid out the kind of money that media companies had expected, and people didn't pay to subscribe to online content.  Craig's List stole their classified cash cow, it's not hard to understand how traditional news outlets are struggling in the online age. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Geek Anthems: Online - Brad Paisley

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Songs like'White And Nerdy' and 'It's All About The Pentiums' by Weird Al Yankovic are considered a couple of geek anthems, songs that celebrate geek culture.  There's another one that fits into the catergory as a geek anthem.  Online by Brad Paisley may not celebrate geeks or geek culture but it is story of one geek played by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander in the video.  The protagonist works a dead end job in the fast food industry and drives a beater of a car.  He lives in his parents' basement, his real life is much different than the life he creates for himself on the Internet.  In his fantasy world he is played by Paisley himself.  The video intercuts concert footage featuring Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler to go with the line of the chorus of the song "Even on a slow day I can have a three way chatting with two women at the same time"

Alexander's geeky protagonist is then seen playing the song in the concert footage and dancing with Swift and Pickler.  The protagonist's dream is shattered when Paisley comes to ask him "what the hell are you doing?"  The dream is totally over when after a dissolve we see him and his father played by William Shatner asking what the hell are you doing?  The protagonist dons his marching band uniform presumabily from high school days and goes marching down the street with the geeky female from next door.  The protagonist's mother played by Estelle Harris is seen with Paisley she says that "marching music makes me hot" with Paisley shuttering at the thought. 

Many reviewers panned the song stating that is way mean spirited and close to bullying.  I doubt that most of us have embellished the truth about ourselves to make us look better than we actually are online or offline.  To the critics maybe they should take a look at themselves and listen to the song and have a laugh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kindle Will Be Coming To Canada After All

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When Amazon launched the international version of the Kindle e-book reader last month there was a big hole in the list of countries where people could buy Kindles.  Potential Canadian customers were left behind, but not any more.  Amazon has announced that Kindles will start to be shipped to Canada. It wasn't Canada's publishing industry that was holding back the Kindle, it was the cell phone industry.  According to Amazon "We were shopping around for the best deal on the cost of running its wireless capability." What this boils down to is that Amazon wansn't willing to play ball with Rogers and was waiting for Telus and Bell to launch their GSM/HSPA network.

Wannabe Kindle readers who live in or visit Manitoba or Saskatchewan will find that the wireless features will be no available because the Bell/Telus HSPA network doesn't cover those two provinces, unless Amazon makes a deal with Rogers to use their network in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That may be change within the next couple of years.  Telus is expected to start putting up their own wireless network towers when existing network sharing agreements with MTS and Sasktel expire.

It may not be truly national coverage yet, but anybody who won't have access to the wireless features at first can still hook up to a computer for a sync.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Microsoft Should Do If They Redesign The Xbox 360

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Once in the lifespan of any video game console system the manufacturer will redesign a system to lower the cost of production, make the system hardware more relabile, or to give it greater appeal to consumers.  At the beginning of the 1990's both Nintendo and Sega redesigned the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System. Both redesigned their 8-bit systems to make them cheaper to build and sell to consumers just as the 16 bit video games era began.  In 1999 just before the Playstation 2 was released to rule the gaming world the original playstation went under the knife and got smaller in size of the system and the price got smaller too. 

In 2004 Sony redesigned the Playstation 2 to make it smaller, but not just because they were replacing it with new system but to give it a competive leg up against Microsoft's original Xbox. Sony made the PS2 smaller by locating the power transformer outside of the box using a wire wart instead.  The hard drive expansion bay was done away with and the drawer loading drive was replaced with a drive that used a fliptop lid similar to the original playstation.  The Ethernet port became standard on the redesigned PS2 no longer an add on.

After a redesign and price drop Sony is now selling more Playstation 3's then they ever have since launching the system in 2006 it's now Microsoft that finds themselves in third place in console sales. Nobody every said that having a big clunky looking machine will doom a game machine to failure but the design was one of the biggest complaints about the original Xbox.  After five years the Xbox is starting to look an update is needed.  What changes will be needed so that Microsoft will be looking forward to success with the Xbox 360 rather than the current trend of gamers jumping ship to the PS3.  Here's just a few of my suggestions:

Dump the memory card slots: Those two slots right next to the disk drive drawer are for a couple of Microsoft's proprietary memory cards for the Xbox 360.  Since adding 256 MB of flash memory to the motherboard of the 360 Arcade has made using these memory card slots unneeded and unused by the vast majority of 360 owners.  This should definately be the first to go.

Go to a slot loading disk drive:  The competing consoles in this generation both have slot loading drives which game disks are inserted.  The old fashioned loading drawer can break off, and after a while can and will fail.  Slot loading disk drives prevent dust from entering the drive mechanism, and the brushes on the slot clean disks as they are being inserted into the drive.  Many Windows PC's as well as just about evey Mac that Apple produces have replaced the drawer load drive with a slot load drive, it's time Microsoft does the same with the 360.

Onboard WiFi:  One of the things that irks 360 owners and PS3 fanboys gloat about is the extra one hundred dollars for the WiFi adapter for the 360 that those unwilling to run ethernet cable have to buy if they want to get onto Xbox live.  Both the Wii and the PS3 have onboard WiFi standard if Microsoft wants to keep the 360 competive then they will have sacrifice the sacred cash cow.

Better ventilation:  Stories from gamers of Xbox 360's overheating and showing a red ring still aboud where gamers meet each other.  Changing to a design similar to that used by Apple's G4 cube where the CPU and GPU chips which create the most heat are placed cloest to the vent at the top of they system and chips that produce little or no heat are placed close to the bottom. 

At least considering these ideas is at least a way of looking forward instead of letting the 360 rest on it's laurels, it may seem like a big choice for the Xbox 360 team at Microsoft, but it really is not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jailbroken iPhones Get Hacked

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For those who have ever jailbroken their iPhones or iPod touch devices thinking that it was harmless, they have just been proven wrong.  Users of jailbroken iPhones in Holland recently discovered a message telling them that their iPhones have hijacked and that their personal information was available to the hijacker.  Clicking on a link in the message told them to hand over 5 Euros to the hijacker's PayPal account. 

While this was just a simple attempt to scare people out of money is just the first of what will be flood of security breaches that hit jailbroken iPhones or iPod touchs since jailbreaking disables all security mechanisms in the Apple devices.  This is proof that any iPod touch or iPhone is best left the way it came from Apple.

For more information about The Hidden Dangers of Jailbreaking

Monday, November 2, 2009

GSM Droid Confirmed For Germany, Canada Next?

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Since the official announcement of Motorola's Droid launch on Verizon there have been rumours of a Droid for GSM networks will be surfacing soon.  O2 Germany and Motorola have confirmed that the GSM version of the Droid dubbed the Milestone will be available on November 9th.  While this doesn't mean anything for Americans on AT&T or T-Mobile because of Motorola's exclusivity agreement with Verizon, Canadians will have a reason to hope that it's no longer a question of if the Droid will come to the Great White North but when.

The Droid coming to GSM means that Rogers will be able to offer the phone as well as CDMA carriers Telus and Bell.  The CDMA Droid is most likely to end up with Telus because most of the models of phones that Verizon carries get carried by Telus.  Bell on the other hand carries Sprint's phone lineup.  Having a GSM version of the Droid means that Rogers can and will offer the Droid to Canadians.

The GSM version of the Droid will also be HSPA network compatible so that Telus or Bell could offer the GSM/HSPA version of the Droid to get expected data hungry customers that the Droid would attract onto their new networks, while Voice call users would stay on CDMA.  While this may be a good way to manage their wireless networks, won't be a good move to provide service to those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan since the only networks that aren't owned by Rogers are CDMA only.  The best way for Telus to offer a national launch of the Droid is to pick up the CDMA version. (Subscribers of MTS and SaskTel are out of luck on this one since these regional carriers carry the phones the big carriers don't want anymore.)

Forbidding some kind of exclusivity agreement with one carrier can and should give Canadians choice of cellular carrier.  Not just now but in the future when the new carriers, Wind Mobile, DAVE Wireless and Public Mobile launch their cell phone services next year.  This oddly reminds me of ten years ago when people could flock to Bell, Rogers, Telus, Clearnet or Fido to get a Motorola StarTac.  Times change but sometimes what's old can become new again.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Could H1N1 Hysteria Cause Financial Disruption?

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In recent weeks news coverage of the H1N1 swine flu has become beyond impossible to avoid.  People have changed their habits in response to H1N1, most have been common sense changes in habit such as more frequent hand washing, and a few have become agoraphobic because of the scare of swine flu.  One of the changes of habit seen in people's shopping habits is not what people are buying but how people are paying for purchases.  Fewer and fewer people are choosing to use cash instead opting to use debit and credit cards instead.  Most medical experts view money as a harbinger for germs and viruses.

With the Christmas shopping season just a few weeks away fears are arising that Canada's Interac network that handles debit transactions that bogs down in the days leading up to Christmas in normal years could be completely brought down under the strain of millions of attempted transactions from those concerned over H1N1.  Even credit card transactions could face slow down as millions of more dollars that would have been handed over in cash gets put on plastic instead. 

The best way to avoid any disruptions when paying using a debit or credit card this Christmas shopping season is to shop early.  The later people leave Christmas shopping the greater the chance of disruptions to the financial networks that process debit and credit transactions will be.  If last minute shopping is unavoidable, then the best way to shop without problems is to face your fears and just hit the ATM and get cash, because cash is the only payment method that cannot be disrupted.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First New Canadian Cell Carrier Isn't 'Canadian Enough'

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Cellular subscribers looking for better rates and better choices in phones probably won't see it in 2009.  That's because the review of the ownership structure of Wind Wireless and it's parent company Globalive by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has found that the investment by Egyptian telecom company Orascom puts too much of the ownership of Globalive outside of Canadian hands. 

Welcoming this decision is Canada's established cell phone carriers who launched this inquiry into the ownership of Globalive.  Also welcoming the outcome of the ownership inquiry is DAVE Wireless one of the other cellular startups that will be looking to pull subscribers away from the big three.  What is still not known is how large the investment from the definitely not Canadian co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen. 

What Canada needs is strong telecommunications industry to support four, five or more national cellular carriers.  That won't happen with draconian regulations keeping some foreign support to help startups get into the business.  In Britain two of the three biggest cell carriers are French owned (O2) and German (T-Mobile) with the other one (Vodafone) under British ownership.  There the competition is more robust than what exists in Canada.

The Canadian ownership that the CRTC is responsible for defending applies more to broadcasting, so that Canadians can be seen on television and heard on the radio.  Applying the same rules to telecommunications simply allows for Canadians to get fleeced by Canadians.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Canada's Ugliest Cell Phone

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Back in May PC World compiled their list of the twelve ugliest cell phones in the world.  Out of the twelve only two of phones featured was offered was the Motorola Rokr and a Walkman phone by Sony Ericsson both offered on Rogers.  The Rokr was a little brickish that may have been more at home in 2001 than in 2005 when it was originally released.  The W350 is small and from my eyes could tell, far from ugly.  If the editors of PC World are compiling a list of dishonorable mentions in the looks, then the thirteenth phone that should be in the list is...Sanyo's Pro 700.  The Pro 700 is offered by Sprint in the United States and in Canada by Bell and Sasktel Mobility. 

The yellow and black finish of the phone makes it look like a device used at a construction site.  Bell offers a version of the phone in all black which is an improvement but does nothing to improve it's box like appearance.  This phone is proof that somebody that is legally blind get paid to design cell phones.  For those making a three year commitment to this phone maybe they should have had a vision test rather than a credit check when they subscribed to their cellular service.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Telus Sort Of Dumps The System Access Fee

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One of the most annoying things about subscribing to contract post-paid cell phone service is paying the System Access Fee that $6.95 a month that does nothing more than fatten the profit margins of the cell phone industry.  In anticipation of new competition coming just weeks from now, Vancouver based Telus Mobility is dropping the system access fee and the 911 fee.  Dumping the fees started last year when Telus' discount brand Koodo Mobile launched without the fees and Rogers' owned Fido dropped the fees.  This move follows Rogers' dropping the fees from their main branded service back in September.  That leaves Bell Mobility as the only national carrier and regional carriers MTS and SaskTel as the only cell phone service providers that still charge the fees.

Consumers hoping to bag big savings are going to be let down, when the fees come off the prices charged for cell phone plans will rise five dollars a month.  Average savings will only be about two to three dollars a month.  The savings won't be automatic, new subscribers will be put on the new plans without the fees.  Existing subscribers will get to switch to a new plan without the fees when their current contracts expire.  It's encouraging to see cell carriers ending this bait and switch practice of offering plans for one price and then tacking on fees that raise the total cost of the service by twenty percent or more.  If one of the effects of the upcoming competition is honesty in cell phone plan pricing, then imagine what it will be like when the new guys get their services off the ground and really giving the big guys a real run for their money.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Subidized Netbooks In Canada

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It's been getting to miss all those ads for free and cheap netbooks while watching American TV or reading American magazines all one has to do is commit two years of their life to paying for a data plan from AT&T or Verizon Wireless.  These Netbooks come with onboard HSDPA or EV-DO 3G access.  Checking with the Telus, Rogers, and Bell web sites it's obvious that none of the cell carriers in Canada have yet to offer a Netbook with onboard 3G.

This is just another sign that Canada's cell phone industry is a triopoly and not real competition.  If there was real competition, Rogers would be offering me a netbook to win me back, Telus would offer me a netbook to keep me, and Bell would actually know where Saskatchewan is and would be offering service here and offer me Netbook to get me to jump to them. 

Canada's big three is just three to six months away from getting some competition from upstart competitors the new guys will be bringing subsidized 3G netbooks to attract customers from the incumbents, will the incumbents offer netbooks of their own to keep their customers?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Motorola's Droid Will It Make A Northern Appearance?

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Talk among some subscribers of Verizon Wireless is the soon to debut Motorola Droid smartphone running Google's Android operating system.  The Droid features a Qwerty keyboard that slides out.  Just like most other smartphones the Droid features WiFi and Bluetooth.  Verizon's EV-DO network provides the 3G data service for the Droid.  For the Verizon subscriber who is looking to jump to another carrier to get a smartphone that isn't a Blackberry or runs Windows Mobile, the Droid is most certainly a reason to put off jumping ship.

North of the 49th Telus Mobility subscribers have been facing a similar selection of Blackberries or Windows Mobile smartphones.  For Telus building market share among high end smartphone users has been a challenge with Rogers carrying iPhones, Android handsets from HTC, and Bell snagging the Palm Pre, the Droid is a must have for Telus.

With iPhones set to go carrier agnostic when Bell and Telus are set to flip the switch on their HSPA networks it could be easy for Telus to get caught up in their own we're getting the iPhone party they could very well overlook the Droid and Android operating system altogether.

With offering smartphones the smart move for Telus is to offer smartphones that use the older CDMA network along side with devices that operate on HSPA.  For many place that are off the beaten path in Alberta and BC will remain CDMA for some time to come.  In Manitoba and Saskatchewan Telus only rents the networks of incumbent providers which are CDMA and will be for next few years to come.  A CDMA smartphone running Android will be exactly what Telus needs and Motorola's Droid is the perfect fit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why There Is No Garth Brooks On iTunes

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Country super crooner Garth Brooks announcing that he is ending his retirement millions of fans are going to be searching online music stores when any new material is released, but they will come up with nothing to show for it. All the back catalog and any future works are not on any online music store including iTunes because Mr. Brooks doesn't want it that way. Mr. Brooks has a couple of beefs with how music is sold on the Internet. Firstly Mr. Brooks wants to right to variable pricing, which of course is a red herring. Since songs on iTunes sell for .69, .99 and 1.29 there is some variable pricing in the system as opposed to traditional retail which the retailer sets the prices, not the musicians, songwriters or recording companies.

The other problem that Mr. Brooks has with how music is sold online, every song from every album available for download as a single. Mr. Brooks wants to force consumers to buy the whole album. Isn't paying twenty dollars to buy a dozen or more songs just to get one or two songs that the buyer wanted the whole reason that original Napster took off in the first place and forced big music to rethink their business model?

This isn't the first time Mr. Brooks tried to dictate to music retailers how they should conduct business. In 1993 just before the release of In Pieces, Mr. Brooks got on his high horse and criticized music retailers that bought and resold CD's that people no longer wanted. Mr. Brooks' label at the time Capitol Records refused to ship copies of In Pieces to music retailers that engaged in the practice. The Music retailers retaliated and filed anti-trust lawsuits against Capitol Records. In Pieces eventually shipped to all music stores even those that sell previously enjoyed CD's.

Back then it Mr. Brooks didn't get his way, but now music retailing is so much different than when Mr. Brooks first retired some eight years ago. If his mind set doesn't change than any future new songs will be available online, on Limewire, Bearshare, Ares and Frostwire. Doesn't things will end very good for Mr. Brooks this time around.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Canada, Record TV, Pay A New Tax

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As Canadians we are heavily taxed copyright infringing hosers. We pay a levy on every blank CD we buy to save the recording industry from all that illegal music that Canadians download. There have been proposals to extend the levy to memory cards, USB flash drives and hard drives just because they can be used to store music. There has been a proposal to put a special tax on Internet access just to compensate the music and movie industries from illegal downloading.

The latest proposal to pull money from Canadian consumers comes from a rights holder group that collects royalties for publishers and authors from public libraries. Canadian agency Access Copyright is putting forth a yearly fee to be collected from owners of any device that can record TV shows. Owners of personal video recorders (PVR's) would pay the fee through cable or satellite bill. Anybody with a VHS VCR would have to pay up too.

The proposal would not just affect TV time shifting but format shifting too. Somehow people should be forced to pay for digitizing TV shows, movies, and music to burn to CD or DVD or put on a portable media players such as iPods or Zunes. This of course goes to show how ridiculously unworkable this tax proposal is.

This makes me wonder why an agency that collects for the publishing industry is trying to tax video recording devices? Could it be that Access Copyright is just saying what the Canadian Association of Broadcasters is paying them to say? I think that the same networks that are looking for corporate welfare in the form of carriage fee to be charged to cable companies and handed down to cable subscribers have something to do with this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Bill To Help Silence Loud Commericals

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For so much of the past twenty years or so the bills created by congress that have by the most part been laughable. Some of them include letting the RIAA launch DOS attacks against any user of a peer to peer network, requiring all ISP's and all owners of home Internet routers to log all Internet activity for two years, just to name a couple. A new bill is a refreshing breakaway from the idiotic bluster that comes from Washington DC. The new bill called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act will silence the most painful part of watching television, loud commercials.

The proposed law doesn't just ban commercials with raised volume levels, but bans the tricks producers of commercials use to make the commercials sound louder than they actually are. Bringing down the volume levels of TV commercials started with the passing of spokes-blowhard Billy Mays, now if they can get rid of the ShamWow-SlapChop guy and pass this law then people will tolerate TV commercials again. Unlike the Digital Millennium Copyright Act this is a law that countries around the world should emulate.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindle Goes International, But Not Coming To Canada

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In the season when the consumer electronics industry is full of announcements practically every day, one announcement comes as a surprise to many tech industry watcher, it comes from Internet ecommerce pioneer Their much hyped Kindle e-book reader which until has been only available stateside will be shipping to over 100 countries. The International version of the Kindle will support GSM cellular networks for wireless book buying, instead of the CDMA based version that has been selling so far in the United States.

That is great for everybody outside of the United States who have been waiting for the Kindle, not so great in two English speaking countries that will not be getting the Kindle, New Zealand and of course Canada. Why Amazon choose not to make the international Kindle available in the Great White North remains a mystery, it could be that there are Luddites in charge Canada's publishing industry? Possible but not likely, While services like Audible don't have Canadian web sites, Works by Canadian authors are on the American based web sites. Could it be the cellular industry? Possible, very possible the international version of the Kindle would have to use the Rogers Wireless network, Rogers may find it objectionable to have to sell access to their cellular network at wholesale rates to Amazon.

Leaving Canada out of such a world wide launch is simply unacceptable, so Amazon, publishing industry, and Rogers, you have some 'splaining to do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Belus to get iPhone Next Month?

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According to an unnamed report from an unnamed source, Canada's the dynamic duo of telecom Telus and Bell will begin to offer Apple's iPhone when the exclusivity agreement with Rogers ends in November. Upgrades to Canada's two largest CDMA based networks to HSPA will allow Telus and Bell to offer the iPhone or any other HSPA based smartphone.

That would at least give most Canadian iPhone users choice of carriers, wherever Bell or Telus operates the incumbent CDMA network. Telus subscribers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba will not get a chance to get an iPhone. In Saskatchewan incumbent carrier Sasktel is planning to upgrade their network to another technology UMTS which is in direct competition, and in Manitoba MTS is making their upgrade to HSPA in conjunction with Rogers Wireless.

Since both Telus and Bell see Rogers as their biggest competitor, how likely would it be that they would have to operate under a roaming agreement with Rogers. Some within both Telus and Bell would see it as a deal with the Devil. Telus' market share in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has been low compared to the incumbent carriers, and Bell has no market share in those provinces since they do not even offer service in neither Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Telus and Bell will likely will wait it out until Globalive or Dave Wireless builds their cellular networks in the provinces.

This rumor of the iPhone coming Telus and Bell would be good for most Canadians, some of us will be left with the status quo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials, A First Look

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Microsoft has officially made good and released their free Anti-Virus/Spyware/Other Malware codenamed Morrow. Released as Microsoft Security Essentials protection is very basic, probably to avoid anti-trust cries from vendors of the behemoth security packages such as Symantec and MacAfee.

After uninstalling AVG 8.5 and installing Security Essentials was quicker that I have ever seen a Anti-Virus program install. After a reboot and updating the definition file Security Essentials is working, no other configuration needed. Security Essentials is very light weight so much it even makes AVG look somewhat bloated. On a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 with 1 GB of RAM Windows startup is quicker programs load faster even iTunes loads in about half the time.

In my attempts to bring viruses or other nasties into my computer Security Essentials stopped me everytime. Which is a good sign, given how notorious Windows Live One Care was at missing viruses.

Microsoft Security Essentials promises to be a very good solution for home PC users. It just maybe what the makers of the bloated security suites may need to get their acts together or it just may make them cry 'unfair dumping' to the feds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

False Advertising Comes From SaskTel

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One of the most deceptive things about how cell phone service is offered in Canada is what prices that rate plans cost, pile up the extra fees and that 25 dollar a month plan is more like 40 dollars. Now a cell carrier has gone from questionable advertising to deceptive false advertising. SaskTel in attempt to prop up their struggling prepaid service has put out their latest saturation advertising blitz promoting their prepaid cell service as having no hidden fees, but looking closer reveals that SaskTel still charges the 59 cent per month "911 fee" on prepaid service, which makes their claim that their prepaid service has "No Hidden Fees" a straight out lie.

It's rather fitting that it's the "911 fee" that they choose to keep, since it's the most deceptive fee that telcos charge. Funding for 911 service in just about every community comes from municipal taxes, not this bogus fee that comes attached to every cellular and wireline telephone account.

On the Prepaid cell service home page repeats the "No Hidden Fees" claim but looking on the pages for the various prepaid plans shows the "911 fee" will be applied to all prepaid accounts. If there is any truth in advertising legislation that any teeth left in this country, let's see SaskTel try to explain this one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

iPod Tax Showing Its Ugly Head Again

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In the latest consultation on upcoming copyright legislation representatives from the recording industry and the Canadian Private Copying Collective told the government panel that a levy on iPods and other portable media players is needed. This comes despite the levy that they advocate was enacted in 2003 and struck down by Canadian courts in 2005. The Recording industry claims that because of portable media players people are not burning as many CD's and the pool of funds created by the current levy of 29 cents per CD-R will dry up is the levy isn't put back on to portable media players.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective has made applications to the Copyright Board to raise the CD levy as high as 54 cents per CD-R, enact levies on flash memory products and hard drives. Those applications were rejected by the Copyright Board. Since the inception of the CPCC in 1999 about 180 million from the CD levies have been collected but only 130 million dollars have been distributed to musicians, songwriters and other rights holders.

Why does an agency that is currently holding 50 million dollars in their own pocket should collect levies on portable media players? How much of the levy on portable media players will just sit in the bank account of the CPCC? Most people with iPod are buying their music on iTunes, this kind of double dipping on the part of the Big Music cannot be allowed to proceed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Microsoft Plans to Offer Windows 7 Students For Cheap

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For many years Microsoft has offered a reduced version of Office to students for a much lower price than the full versions of Office that Microsoft offers. Microsoft has announced that a similar student discount offer on operating systems when Windows 7 arrives in October. Instead of a reduced version at a reduced price, Microsoft will be selling the full version of Windows 7 Home Premium but the purchasers will have to provide proof that they are qualified college/university students. For 30 dollars students will get to directly download Windows 7 and burn their own installation DVD.

On the surface Microsoft makes the discount program as a way of providing cash strapped students a cheap way to get away from Windows Vista, but then again Microsoft chose a date to ship Windows 7 that's about month after college and university students hit the books for another year. Microsoft, more than any other software publisher knows how much software piracy happens on college and university campuses. Many of the hacks to circumvent the Digital Rights Management that Microsoft has built in to prevent piracy of the Windows operating system such as Product Activation and Windows Genuine Advantage came from computer science students.

Rock bottom academic pricing on operating system software has worked well for Apple in the past, somethine tells me that it won't work so well for Microsoft.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Motorola Cliq, Coming To Canada On Rogers, As Expected

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Just days after Motorola announced the launch of their new smartphone called the Cliq running Google's Android operating system based on the prototype code named 'Morrison' word comes from Rogers Wireless that they will be launching the Cliq on their network in early 2010. This comes as very little surprise that Rogers would pick up Motorola's Andorid phone and launch it about the time that competing GSM carriers are due to launch in Canada.

Many are wondering why the prototype CDMA models were left out of Motorola's announcement on the 10th, both the 'Sholes' and 'Calgary' prototypes carry the Verizon logo, It makes one wonder if a deal with a Canadian carrier will be coming right after the official launch announcements that are expected in October. Android based smartphones are exactly what Telus would need to gain market share in Ontario and Eastern Canada it would be foolish to bet that Telus would not get an Android based phone from Motorola or some other vendor.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gears Of War 3 to Support Project Natal

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According to an anonymous sources inside Epic Games stated that work is in progress to support Microsoft's new motion capture camera called 'Project Natal' in the upcoming Gears of War 3. Gears 3 is expected to be released towards the end of 2010 which is when the Project Natal camera is expected to hit store shelves.

To play the third and final installment in the Gears of War trilogy players make a gun with their right hand with their forefinger pointing forward and thumb pointing upward. When the enemy is in the sight players yell 'bang' to shoot. To reload just rest the "handgun" up against the forehead. The rest of the actions have yet to determined according to the source.

This is your weapon, This is your gun in Gears of War 3
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Google Android To Coming To CDMA

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Google's Android the operating system for smartphones that is often considered to be the closest challenger to Apple's iPhone has been struggling for support from handset manufacturers and cellular carriers is finally expanding from it's current homes, T-Mobile in the US and Rogers Wireless in Canada. HTC currently the only manufacturer currently shipping handsets with Android installed is launching the first Android based smartphone on a CDMA network when model called the HTC Hero launches on Sprint in October.

Google's Android will also be available on smartphones other than those offered by HTC for the first time. September 10th Motorola will be announcing Android based smartphones, one phone code named 'Morrison' that will run on the T-Mobile network. The other Android phone is code named 'Sholes' which will be running on Verizon's network.

Now the question for Canadian CDMA subscribers is which Android phone on which network? The trend is that Sprint phones usually get picked up by Bell and Verizon phones are picked up by Telus. If that trend holds, the HTC Hero will be on Bell and the Motorola Sholes will be available on Telus. It could very well be that Bell will pass on Google Android in order to protect their Palm Pre sales. Of course if Sprint was so worried about cannibalizing their Palm Pre sales they wouldn't be carrying the Hero. Of course I predicted that Rogers was going to pass on Android to protect the iPhone, and that didn't happen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is the PS3 The Next Super Nintendo?

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In a previous blog entry I made a comparison between Sony's Playstation 3 and the demise of Sega's console business. Since then Sony has brought out a new PS3 at a lower price in an effort to reclaim some of the market share that they have lost in few years since introducing the PS3. Such a turn around hasn't been seen Nintendo clawed back from the brink to beat the Sega Genesis back in the mid 1990's just before the 16 bit era gave way to the 32 bit era.

Back in 1989 Sega introduced the Genesis to replace the Master System that was so badly beaten by the original NES during the 8 bit console war. Sega's 16 bit system started off slowly but eventually gained market share. By the end of 1990 Nintendo still didn't have a 16 bit system on the market and video game industry observers at the time were starting to predict the end of Nintendo within a year and a half.

Nintendo brought out the Super Nintendo just before the end of 1991, but by then the Genesis was cheaper, had more games and had so much more market share, similar to the current era in console gaming, The Xbox 360 had a one year head start, the 360 is cheaper, and has more games. Nindendo got their game back making deals with game publishers to get exclusive games on Super Nintendo and some games that would have Genesis exclusives became multiplatform. In 1994 Nintendo brought out a mass marketing campaign along with a price cut. By the end of the 16 bit console war a year later Nintendo dominated selling 49 million Super Nintendos in just 4 years by comparison Sega sold 29 million Genesis consoles in the six years it was on the market.

Sony's price cut is seen by many as the first step towards turning the tide in it's war against Microsoft. Sony has made head way with game developers in getting more games for the Playstation 3. Saint's Row launched in 2006 as an exclusive for the Xbox 360, The sequel which hit store shelves three years later is multiplatform. Bioshock another 360 exclusive hit store shelves in 2007. A year a version of Bioshock for the Playstation 3 arrived in stores. When Bioshock 2 arrives by the end of the year it too will launch on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Game developers are taking advantage of the more advanced technology in the Playstation 3. The recent release Batman: Arkam Asylum has a play as the Joker mode which is absent from the Xbox 360 version. The reason for this is because of the greater storage capacity of the BluRay media used by the Playstation 3. The Dual Layer DVD media used on the Xbox 360 is showing it's age, The game Star Ocean: The Last Hope required 3 DVD disks, and the upcoming Forza Motorsport will be coming on two disks.

Super Nintendo proved that a console maker can pull itself from the brink of extinction speculated by industry analysts to win a console war. Sony has been seen as a dark horse in the race but definitely not one that should not be bet against. Microsoft may have been able to use the library of games available on the 360 to attract gamers, then use this massive installed base to sway game developers, but these advantages are quickly disappearing. This is what will make a comeback for Sony more and more certain.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Xbox 360 Elite Price Drops $100 in US and $70 in Canada WTF?

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Microsoft's poorly kept secret response to Sony's PS3 Slim and it's 299 dollar price tag became official over the weekend. In American retail shelves the price of the Xbox 360 sheds 100 dollars to match the 299 dollar price that the PS3 slim sells at. In stores in Canada the Elite now sells at 329 dollars, a drop of just 70 dollars. So once again Canadians get fleeced once again by a tech company.

Exchange rate cannot justify the smaller price drop for Canadians nor can the game bundles because the Elite that doesn't come with bundled games sells for the same as an Elite that has games bundled. The Xbox 360 Elite bundle that sells in some stores comes with a wireless network adapter but other stores have a bundle that doesn't offer the wireless network adapter but still sells for 329 dollars.

Microsoft's choice to price the Elite for 329 dollars will still make it the most expensive console on the Canadian market. Since the Pro is getting discontinued, The popular middle of the road option is now the PS3, Microsoft's dropped the price but the have also dropped the ball.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TiVo Goes After Telcos

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A lawsuit launched by TiVo claiming that Echostar better known Dish Network infringes on patented TiVo technology used in digital video recording devices has been winding its way through the court in the past couple of years. Now the company that sold first commercially successful DVR is sending the lawyers after America's two big Telcos because TiVo is making a similar claim that DVR's offered by AT&T as a part of their Uverse product and Verizon's Fios infringe on TiVo's patents.

If Dish Network's, AT&T's and Verizon's DVR's infringe on TiVo's patents' what about the other big Satellite carrier? DirecTV has been licensing TiVo's technology for years. Cable companies have been providing DVR's that are not licensed from TiVo for years so why is it that big cable hasn't been sued yet? TiVo already has a deal with Comcast to install TiVo's DVR software on the cable boxes owned and rented by Comcast subscribers. Because Comcast is so big in comparison to other American cable operators, TiVo will expect the rest of the American cable industry to fall like a house of cards and sign licensing agreements. This is not just about patent infringement, this is TiVo attempting to get on top of the DVR market and turn it into a monopoly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zune HD Launch Delayed in Canada

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September 15th is the date that all those who want a portable media player that does it all but don't want an iPod have circled on their calendars. That's when Microsoft's Zune HD arrives in stores. The Zune HD adds a touch screen and a web browser to the floundering line of portable media players from the big boys in Redmond.

Selling consumer electronics I see many memos and bulletins from the manufacturers and distributors of the products I get paid to sell. I have seen in print in a notice from a distributor that the Zune HD will not be launching in Canada on September 15th. The notice goes on to state that existing Zune hardware will be price to clear them out of retail stores. That essentially means that Zunes are being withdrawn from the Canadian market. The absence of the Zune in the great white North is said to be temporary. The Canadian Zune web site makes no mention of the Zune HD which further confirms the absence of the Zune HD in Canada.

Since the Zune marketplace online store has not been available to Canadian Zune owners since Microsoft launched the Zune in Canada about fifteen months ago. It is likely that Microsoft will try to negotiate with Canada's recording industry and relaunch the Zune sometime in 2010. Given that recording companies have been detesting Apple's pricing and distribution structure, they'd better make a deal with Microsoft.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Petition To Abolish CRTC, Just Short Sighted And Wrong

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There is an online petition seeing to abolish the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the government regulatory agency similar to the Federal Communications Commission in the United States. The petitioners claim the because the CRTC has been keeping American specialty and premium channels out of Canada and because the CRTC has found no wrong doing by Bell Canada over Broadband capping and throttling the CRTC has to be done away with.

Without a doubt the CRTC has been heavy handed when it comes to the American channels allowed onto Canadian TV screens and has let cell phone carriers take it to Canadian cellular subscribers with excessive fees. To those behind the petition I ask of you, If we are to abolish the CRTC what do we replace it with? Letting broadcasting and telecommunications go completely unregulated cannot even be an option.

Net Neutrality may be a sort of a threatened species in Canada however without public regulation is would already extinct. There is new cell phone carriers coming to Canada but it was because of the CRTC mandating that a portion of new frequency spectrum that was being opened up be set aside for start-up carriers that these new providers are coming to the market to challenge Rogers, Bell and Telus. Without the CRTC the established cell carriers would have grabbed up all the available spectrum. The switchover to digital over the air television broadcasting proposed for August of 2011 is mandated by the CRTC and right now only the CRTC is holding the Television broadcaster feet to the fire on the issue. Without the regulator TV stations would continue to put out the inferior analog NTSC signals that are heading into television history.

I agree more could be done to loosen the grip the CRTC has on our television screens and can do more protect cellular and wireline telephone subscribers from the excessive fee gouging, but those behind the petition and everybody who has signed on, Canada without the CRTC would be a lot worse. I'll sign a petition to reform the CRTC but I won't sign to call to abolish it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Legally Free Satellite TV To Come To Canada (No Seriously)

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Just like cell phones, Canadians are about to get something that they desperately need, real competition in satellite TV. A new upstart called Free HD Canada is going to seek a CRTC license to start a third Satellite TV company to serve the Great White North. The name Free HD comes from a proposal to provide Local TV stations for free to those who just buy the dish and receiver and don't choose to subscribe to any additional programming packages. That's all fine and well for those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal who would get HD for free from the new company (people in those cities can already free High Definition local programming with an antenna.) The remaining 85% of Canadians would get the same standard def that is currently available on over the air broadcast TV.

In response Shaw Direct (formerly known as StarChoice) and Bell TV (the former ExpressVu) are proposing their own Local TV for free packages on their services. Undoubtedly CTV and Canwest Global are backing these proposals as a way to dodge the digital transition that is supposed to happen in 2011. If some executives get their way these free local TV satellite services would replace over the air broadcasting. Broadcast networks are already complaining about the cost of transitioning small market stations to digital for a small audience claiming that less than 10 percent would benefit since that's the proportion of the market that relies solely on over the air broadcast for their television programming. In the United States when the FCC and broadcaster were wrangling out their DTV transition plans the FCC used the percentage of homes that had at least one TV hooked up to nothing other than an antenna and came out with a little under half of homes would benefit from transitioning to digital television.

The proposal to transition from free over the air to free satellite is half baked to put it lightly. Many who watch broadcast television using an antenna may have satellite as an option. Many of those who rent their homes are prohibited from putting up satellite dishes by their landlords. For many others satellite just isn't a practical solution an example is those on both the west and east coasts where frequent poor weather degrades satellite signals to the point where blank TV screens are often seen.

New competition in satellite TV is a good thing, but the proposal it comes with will leave Some Canadians without any source of programming. That is something that is simply unacceptable and the CRTC and elected officials needs to hear loud and clear.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apple To Announce New iPods September 9th

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Many Apple watchers already have September 9th circled on their calendars, this is when Apple is going to announce some big news for iTunes and iPods. It is expected to be announced that iTunes 9 will arrive and bring BluRay support to both Mac and PC versions of Apple's media playing software. The biggest news that is expected to drop is new iPods to arrive just in time for Christmas shopping season.

Like previous product announcements there is much speculation about what is coming, so I'll wade into the pool with my predictions:

1. 64 GB Ipod touch arrives, 8 GB touch gets discontinued. With competition from the Zune HD the 16 GB touch will need to become the new entry level model and 32 GB will become mid level model.

2. Hard drive based iPod Classic fade away. The original iPod back in 2001 used a hard drive to store songs and since then there has been a hard drive based iPod at the high end of the product line. With flash memory getting cheaper and cheaper and more demand for the iPod touch the time for the end of the hard drive based iPods is coming to an end.

3. A new 'chicklet' type iPod shuffle to replace the 1 GB shuffle. When the 4GB shuffle was introduced (dubbed the chicklet because of it's resemblance to a piece of gum) that the 1 GB shuffle will soon get replaced, by a 2 GB chicklet iPod shuffle or the 4 GB with an 8 GB shuffle.

That's what I think will happen on September 9th

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bell Telus Merger, Canada To Get A Single Telco Within Two Years

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A few years ago there was a proposal that would have seen Canada's two biggest Telcos become one. At that time Telus had proposed to acquire Bell, who in turn accepted a buy out by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan which would have seen Bell be turned into a privately held company. The buy out plan fell apart and Bell is still a publicly traded company.

There is new speculation that Canada's two big telcos will again attempt to become one. Jonathan Allen, of RBC Dominion Securities Inc writes “Faced with cyclical and secular pressures on the top-line, we believe that a BCE-Telus merger is increasingly likely in the coming year or two as both companies look to cut costs and sustain margins,”

At the time when the original acquisition talks were going on the issue of how to get the joining to the two big telcos approved by the competition bureau was pretty big. With three new cell phone carriers starting within one year and growing competition from cable companies in home phone will make it easier to get "Belus" approved by the competition bureau.

Signs beyond speculation by stock analysts are already pointing towards uniting Bell and Telus, On Thursday, August 13th Telus filed with Canadian and American securities regulators to raise raise up to $4-billion in debt, equity and or warrants. There is no doubt that Bell is worth more than 4 billion but it's enough to get some kind of merger or buyout started.

Many are fearing that a Bell-Telus merger will mean higher prices and customer service that is even worse than it is now. But at least it means that the Palm Pre will be available from coast to coast. As a Telus Mobility user where Bell is not available I like that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is the Zune HD a Matter of Do or Die for Microsoft

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By Microsoft's standards, the Zune hasn't exactly been a success. In the two and half years since hitting the market what was once dubbed as Microsoft's iPod killer hasn't even come close to injuring the iPod. The original brown as you know what (UPS Trucks) captured 12 percent share of the portable music player market when it launched, but after upgrades to 80 GB and then 120 GB and then introduced 4 GB and 8 GB flash based Zune players, the market share has fallen to just 3 percent despite adding features such as an FM radio and WiFi syncing.

Microsoft is taking another at making shot at making a better Zune to attempt get back some market share. The Zune HD will come in two versions a 16 GB version and a 32 GB version which will come with a touch screen and a web browser. The HD moniker comes from the ability to display High Definition video using a docking station that hooks up to a HDTV (sold separately). The Zune HD also has an HD radio tuner which can play higher quality digital radio signals from compatible radio stations. (more info)

Selling the Zune has been a tough sell for Microsoft so far and there's nothing to say that the Zune HD will be any different. One of the problems that preventing public acceptance of the Zune is the fact that the Zune Marketplace music store is not available outside of the United States, The iTunes music store is one of the biggest reasons for the success of the iPods. Microsoft has been trying to apply the PC industry pricing structure to the Zune. Windows based PC's cost less than Macs which has lead to Windows being the dominate operating system in the PC industry. Zunes have typically been priced lower to comparable iPods many view iPods to be better than anything else and are willing to pay the extra cost.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Phones Will The New Cell Carriers Provide?

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In four to twelve months from now Canadians will have three new cell phone carriers to choose from. Wind Communications (aka Globalive), DAVE wireless, and Public Mobile will enter the market hoping to pull subscribers away from Bell, Rogers, Telus and a few regional carriers. The startup carriers are promising better value by dumping fees charged by the traditional carriers. Network coverage will be leave a lot to be desired at first but as the new networks build out coverage will improve. But one of the most important things that people take into consideration when choosing a cell carrier is the selection of phones a carrier offers. Having many cool phones will be one of the most important things that the companies entering Canada's cellular industry will need to attract subscribers. Since all the new cell carriers all intend to use GSM as the technology that all the new carriers will build their networks on speculating on which phones will be offered is somewhat easier.

Blackberries: In Canada it's the Blackberry that is the king of the smart phones, even Virgin Mobile offers Blackberries to prepaid customers. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect versions of the Bold and the Curve for the new carriers at launch. Any new GSM Blackberry models in a year from now will practically be guaranteed to provided by one of the new carriers.

Google Android: With a dozen different handset manufacturers getting ready to launch Android based smartphones it would be a pretty safe bet that the new carriers will have at least one Android phone each.

Microsoft Danger Sidekick: The consistently popular smartphone jr. with tweens and teens that has never been able to crack the Canadian market will finally have a chance to come North of the border with one of the new cell phone carriers.

Palm WebOS: While Bell Mobility is offering the Pre exclusively to their subscribers in eastern Canada, Palm is promising a GSM based smartphone which will probably will launch with one of the new cell providers first, if Rogers doesn't nab it first.

Nokia: The world leading maker of cellular handsets that almost went extinct in North America several years will probably use the launches of the new cell phone carriers to get a foothold back into the Canadian market. Expect the offerings for basic cell phones to contain at least a few Nokias. Nokia's version of the smartphone running the symbian operating system, probably not likely to be seen.

Expect Samsungs, LGs and Motorolas to be represented in the phone lineups by the new carriers but can there be any surprises when the new carriers launch their phone lineups I think so.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Canada's New Cell Carrier Gets A Brand Identity, And It Really Blows

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Globalive one of the biggest winners of last year's cell phone spectrum auction has officially unveiled the corporate identity for the new cell carrier. Wind Communications will be the name of the main stable offering from Globalive. There is still expected to be a discount offering under Globalive's Yak brand.

Globalive brings the Wind brand from Wind Telecomunicazioni, the wireless communications provider with subscribers in Italy and Greece which is owned by Globalive billionaire backer Naguib Sawiris who is set to take a 65 percent stake in the Canadian carrier which is set to start offering cell phone service towards the end of 2009.

Not failing to pounce the established cell carriers have already filed complaints with the CRTC claiming that the 65 percent stake claimed by Sawiris is a violation of Canadian ownership laws which require that 80 percent of the telecommunications provider remain under Canadian ownership. Globalive promises that two thirds of the directors of Wind will be Canadian which should meet the requirement for Canadian control as set out by the CRTC.

The CRTC will hold hearing in the last week of September and will render a decision thirty days after which will alter wireless communications in Canada.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Apple Needs To Do With Their Upcoming Tablet

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The next insanely great gadget that Apple is set to unleash upon the world is going to be a touch screen tablet computer according to the rumoured leaks coming from silicon orchard in Cupertino. Supposedly in about a month or so the tablet will be announced and hit stores anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months later. How can an insanely great tablet be an insanely great success, here's a few tips:

Run a full version of OS X

Many rumours suggest that Apple's tablet will be just a larger version of the iPod Touch. This would hinder rather than help the Apple brand. Running a full version OS X would not only help increase the market share for OS X but would provide functionality that an iPod Touch on steroids cannot. An iPad as some have already dubbed it showing pictures from a collection of photos in iPhoto while it's charging. It needs OS X to do that.

Don't Dump AT&T

There has been much speculation and rumours that Apple has been in talks with Verizon to provide the embedded 3G Internet service for Apple's tablet in exchange Apple would produce an iPhone for Verizon's CDMA network. There are already millions on iPhone users who are spending a hundred dollars a month for their data plans on AT&T, don't expect them to shell out more money for a Verizon data plan as well. Apple would have to produce tablets with 3G chipsets for GSM networks for outside of North America, putting in a CDMA 3G would require paying the Qualcomm tax just for the American market. Putting in CDMA 3G would also keep the Apple tablet out of Canada because Apple is still under an exclusivity agreement agreement with Rogers Wireless, any CDMA based device would break that exclusivity agreement.

Come Down to $500.00

It's no secret that Apple's computers are viewed as premium devices that come with a premium price tag to match. A tablet computer from Apple would have to compete against PC based netbooks priced from 300 to 450 dollars. If Apple prices any higher than 500 dollars then they are in the same price point as full PC laptops. The average buyer won't see any value for a downscale tablet when they can get a full laptop for the same price even if it's running Windows.

Don't Close The Door on Hardware Keyboard

The first laptop computer I saw in a store with a trackpad was a Powerbook back in 1995 and now all laptops both Macs and PC's still have them. Rumoured pictures show a software on screen keyboard. That doesn't mean that people are ready to ditch hardware keyboards, there is sure to be at least one USB port on the Apple tablet because users will need something hook their iPods to. That will still give people room to hook up a corded keyboard, the Apple Tablet could ignite the market for Bluetooth keyboards.

Just like any other rumoured Apple products, the tablet is promising a lot it will be interesting to see what Apple delivers

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I Do About Twitter Spammers

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Just like most other online communication media, Twitter has been invaded by spammers. Twitter spammers or spitters as they have been dubbed will follow people, clicking on their thumbnail images will bring up their pages of tweets that are full of links to web sites selling every questionable product that spammers are trying to sell.

While some may just ignore the twitter spammers, I've been blocking them from following me. That way anybody looking at my page can't click on to the spammers pages. If the spammers see the numbers of the people they follow declining them maybe they'll just pack up and leave Twitter alone.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Patent Trolling Is Alive and Well

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The latest in questionable lawsuits is another one from yet another company that is in business to sue other companies who make and sell successful products. A holding company called Tsera LLC has filed lawsuits against Apple, Microsoft and 21 other companies over touch pad controlled portable electronics. While the original application for the patent was made in 1999 it wasn't actually issued until 2003.

There were touch pads on laptop computers and other devices long before 1999 which makes this patent itself questionable. This lawsuit will be tossed out in time but not before another patent troll will line up and take a shot at Apple, Microsoft or any other successful tech company. Some kind of reform needs to happen soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are The Best Days of PC Gaming In The Past?

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Any quick view of video gaming web sites and magazines are full of reviews and information that mostly deals with console systems. It was just a few years ago that games on PC's were filling the pages of magazines and web sites. Prior to the current generation of video game consoles PC gamers often gloated about how superior their PC's were. At that time there were advantages to PC's as a gaming machine. When the last generation of consoles were introduced about a decade ago, PC's had faster processors, better graphics, better sound and the ability to play online. When the Nintendo Game Cube and the Playstation 2 hit the market hardware to make the consoles able to play online was optional and very few games supported online gaming.

That all changed with the current generation of systems. Online gaming in built into the consoles and games. The graphics support high definition with more colours than ever. Console games come with surround sound as the standard. Online gaming is built into systems and games with many new games and old favorites available for download. One thing that always put console games at an advantage over PC games is ease of use. Just pop in a disc into the machine and play. Since the hardware is the same for each system there was very little worry about incompatibility. No need to update a driver just to run a game. That same ease of use and hardware uniformitity still make consoles attractive to many gamers.

In the past couple of years the tide has been shifting among game developers now most development is for consoles and PC's are an afterthought. Game developers have to put out games for the machines people play on and more most it's the consoles. More and more gamers are more confortable on the couch than they are sitting in front of the computer. Game developers are going to where the money is, and there is less money from PC gamers which means fewer games on PC's and more games on consoles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is Sony Becoming the Next Sega?

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As many tech journalists and bloggers lament the difficulties that Sony is having with the Playstation 3, echos from another console game maker that stuggled and floundered can easily be heard. Just before the original Playstation hit the market, Sega brought out the Saturn in hope that they would be able to move their base of Genesis playing users into the 32 bit world in the mid 1990's

At 399 dollars, about the same as current selling price of the Playstation 3, many gamers all those years ago opted for cheaper systems such as the original playstation and the Nintendo 64. Because of an earlier than expected launch date the selection of games was very limited and grew very slowly, while Playstation 3 launched exactly when Sony said it would the game selection was limited and grew slowly just like it did for the Sega Saturn. The market share for the Sega Saturn lagged behind Sony and Nintendo and as the competing systems became more and more popular some retailers dropped Sega products from store shelves. While Sony hasn't lost any retailers yet, they are making it appear that PS3 products are gaining shelf space by taking it away from Playstation 2 products.

Since the days of the original Sega Master System vs Nintendo Entertainment System battle at the close of the 1980's exclusives were used to sell game systems. When Sony entered the game market they brought their money to game developers and Sega and Nintendo lost most of their exclusive titles. Most games became cross platform and a few became Sony Playstation exclusives. After Microsoft comes into the console gaming market, the Microsofties bring their money to game developers and now it's Sony that lost many of their exclusive titles.

Just three and half years after launching the Saturn the Dreamcast became Sega's next and last game system. Sony has a lot to do to make sure that the Playstation 4 doesn't become another Dreamcast.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Canadians Should Care About DTV

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Last week's changeover to digital television broadcasting in the United States went off with very few problems. This at least negates some of the excuses that Canadian TV stations give for sticking to analog only with just two years before the Canadian deadline to shut down analog. The only TV stations in Canada that have begun broadcasting in Digital are those in southern Ontario and in BC with densely populated areas close enough to the border with access to American over the air DTV signals. For the rest of us in the rest of Canada are restricted to analog only, no access to DTV converter boxes and plenty of analog only TV's still on store shelves this is not a very good sign.

The Canadian broadcasting companies claim that it would be too expensive to buy and operate digital transmitter for the 9 percent of TV households that depend solely on over the air broadcast signals. They don't factor in the households where there is at least one TV set with an antenna because people don't like paying fees for extra outlets or renting additional set top boxes. What TV station operators need to realize is that the sub-channels that broadcasters can send out with DTV can be used as a source of revenue for broadcasters. Digital Television allows TV stations better reach viewers who currently receive such poor reception that they are cable or satellite subscribers because of poor over the air reception.

Canadians are known for hating their cable, satellite and the telephone providers, so any new competition will be very welcome, switching to DTV will free up radio frequencies to allow for wireless broadband and advanced services such as VOiP and IPTV using WiMax or other wireless technology. Digital television is bringing an exciting new world but most Canadians are being held back. Start calling your local TV stations to start asking about DTV they will need to start providing answers sooner or later.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

PSP Go, more like PSP No

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The worst kept secret in the video game industry was revealed officially when Sony took the wraps off the new Playstation Portable, the PSP Go at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The new PSP Go is a smaller and lighter version of the PSP. The controls slide out similar to a cell phone. The PSP Go comes with 16 GB onboard with the ability up to 16 GB more using a Memory Stick Pro Duo card.

The most distinctive difference betweent the PSP Go and all previous PSP's is the lack of a UMD drive. Games are purchased online and downloaded and installed on the PSP go. This may give Sony a chance to dictate how games are sold in the future the still have to convince retailers to give the PSP go a reason to give shelf space to a system when retailers won't even have a chance to sell the games.

A UMD disk holds 1.8 GB of data this means that PSP go could only hold 8 games if you assume that game developers use the entire capicity of the disk. The PSP go is the most expensive portable game player to date and will be a very hard sell for Sony coming so soon after the launch of Nintendo's DSi which does so much more than previous DS's but still maintains backward compatibility with all Nintendo DS game cartridges. Right now Sony just hasn't justified the PSP go.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Save "Local" TV, They Can Save Themselves

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For the past couple of weeks CTV stations have been running ads promoting their website. These ads and their web site are an attempt to create public support for a proposal from CTV and their competitor Canwest Global to charge a carriage fee to cable and satellite providers for the use of their signals. Cable and satellite providers have been very up front that any carriage fee would be passed directly onto subscribers.

Making cable subscribers pay for the same old analog signals that those using antennas will still get to use for free just creates an unfair subsidy. Subsidizing those who do not have access to cable or satellite tv service simply is not acceptable.

The broadcast networks claim that their situation is critical and the would be forced to shut down over the air stations. Their current "crisis" has come from using the same old business model from the time before cable TV came into people's homes in the 1970's. Running the same shows from NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox simply won't cut it any more. There are many many shows that don't even get a chance to be seen on Canadian television. Maybe picking up some of those shows will give people a reason to tune in to their local CTV or Global stations.

Don't expect me to save CTV and Global from their outdated business practise, they can save themselves.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Canada's Slow Road to 4G

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Within the next couple of years the cell phone industry is going to be making a change that is as big as the change from analog cellular to digital back in the mid 1990's. Cell phone carriers are going to be making a change over from current GSM and CDMA networks to new networks using Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) . While LTE is true 4G right from deployment UMTS is 3.5 G with supporting carriers claiming that UMTS will be 4G equivilant.

The largest GSM carrier AT&T and the largest CDMA carrier, Verizon will be making the switch to LTE, T-Mobile will be using UMTS. The 4th cell carrier, Sprint will be using WiMax as their technology for their 4G services. In Canada the picture looks very different. Only Rogers is planning to deploy LTE based 4G, Canada's other cell carriers Bell, Telus, and the other two regional cell carriers are going with UMTS.

This presents an issue for cell phone toting snowbirds on Bell or Telus, Any UMTS phone will need CDMA fallback in order to work in any area where there is no service provided by T-Mobile. Without the ability to fall back to CDMA a customer on Bell or Telus may find themselves without cell phone service in Manitoba or Saskatchewan because the regional cell carriers in those provinces will not have UMTS deployed in many areas for may years to come.

Just like the days of the switch over from analog to digital, the change to 4G will bring services that are not yet even imaginable. But just like that earlier transition the switch to 4G the ability to fall back to 2.5, 3G systems will be be just as essential.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Canadians Getting Android Phones and Palm Pre

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Two of the most sought after smartphones by Canadians are set to arrive in the Great White North. Google's Android will make it's Canadian debut on two phones on the Rogers Wireless network. The HTC Dream, sold in the United States as the G1 and the upcoming Magic also made by HTC will go on sale on June 2nd. That other got to have smartphone the Palm Pre will also be coming to Canada on Bell Mobility some time in the second half of 2009. The Pre has yet to launch in the United States but it is expected within the month.

The agreement that brings the Palm Pre to Canada is an exclusive agreement with Bell which means that for Western Canadians most of which cannot subscribe to Bell mobility the Palm Pre will still be out of reach. Rogers bringing Android based phones to Canada comes to a surprise to many because none of the Canadian cell phone carriers are members of the Open Handset alliance but with new competition coming within the year and a half it really isn't surprizing that the existing carriers are going to snap up the most popular phones in advance of the launch of any new competitors.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What The Possibility of a CDMA iPhone Means For Canadians

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Apple is talking to Verizon to bring the iPhone to the CDMA network carrier once Apple's exclusivity deal with AT&T ends at the end of the year. (USA Today Story) The potential for a new iPhone that runs on CDMA already has some Canadian subscribers excited because that would give people an alternative to Rogers with the high cost of their data plans.

Most phones offered by Verizon in the States usually turn up on Telus in Canada. For Telus getting a CDMA iPhone would be a natural fit especially if Bell snags the Palm Pre. The iPhone is a proven product that people have already switched carriers to get one, the Pre on the other hand is unproven so it will be a risk for whatever carrier gets carry it. For Apple using Telus as the official carrier for the CDMA iPhone would give them national exposure which is something that Bell cannot offer. For Telus the iPhone would give them something that would help them gain market share in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

From the first day that the CDMA iPhone becomes available, it probably won't be available in Canada since Apple would still have an exclusivity agreement with Rogers. Sounds like the same old story yet again.

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