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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Google lines up the telecom : Mobile me

WoW :U.S. Approves the First Google Phone
Google’s initiatives these days don’t come in the grandiose package of its 700Mhz spectrum bids earlier this year. Rather its efforts are rolling out in bits and pieces from a variety of products groups. But the ultimate prize hasn’t changed: “We can make more in mobile than desktop [advertisting] eventually,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt told TV’s Mad Money Host Jim Cramer last week.
And don’t be distracted. Moving its money-minting ad engine from the desktop to new venues – most notably, the cell phone -- is what is driving the bulk of Google’s telecom efforts, a handful of which took major steps forward in the past few days.
On Monday, Google released the first formal beta of its Android mobile operating system on Monday, version 0.9 SDK r1. The release features a major upgrade to the Android user interface, including an icon-pretty, widget-driven home screen; a new tab-based interface to access specific applications; and new camera and media player apps.
Analysts aren't sold that Android can be the game-changer it purports to be.
"Theoretically, where Google could be most disruptive is by using mobile ad revenue to subsidize the phone or subsidize service and fundamentally altering the industry’s economics," said Avi Greengart, analyst with Current Analysis. "Google has a significant consumer brand, but that, by itself, is not enough to sell phones – an Android phone will still have to compete in the real world against other devices. Consumers don’t buy operating systems, they buy devices."
The Android release seems well timed to make an appearance in what appears to be the first FCC-approved Android-based device, the so-called HTC dream, which T-Mobile confirmed it will debut this fall. The phone features a touch-screen like Apple’s iPhone but slide-out keyboards as well. The final, 1.0 version of the Android SDK is expected as early as next month. Reports also emerged last week that T-Mobile was preparing an “open application” store that would compete with Apple’s iPhone App Store. Such a store would at least be partially driven by Android-based applications.

Also this week, Google launched a test version of localized ads on its YouTube video mobile site in the U.S. and Japan. The test “will [users] a new way to interact with content on the go, while allowing us to learn how video viewers engage with mobile advertising,” Christine Tsai, Google’s product marketing manager for YouTube said in a blog post announcing the test.
Finally, Google Monday launched a new web site called Free the Airwaves, to publicly encourage the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate “white space,” or portions of available spectrum between existing broadcast TV channels. Tests of white spaces data transmission have been decidedly mixed.Google filed remarks with the FCC last March to support the development of white space data.
In announcing its new site, Google stated the obvious: While its “do no evil” corporate mantra at times finds it supporting new initiatives for the sake of customers, in the end, Google’s bottom line drives its interest in telecom and wireless. Said Google’s Minnie Ingersoll, product manager, Alternative Access Team: “When it comes to opening these airwaves, we believe the public interest is clear. But we also want to be transparent about our involvement: Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the web.”

Mobile me

It seems Apple is quite concerned with the stress MobileMe's problems have caused users since its release and has decided to extend the free account period by another 60 days. These two months add up to the 30 day extension users received last month.
On Monday, MobileMe subscribers received an e-mail from the company, in which they were informed about Apple’s plans. In the same message, the company said although MobileMe has received many improvements, a lot more work is still required in order to eventually have a "great service".
The MobileMe Team acknowledged the fact that MobileMe's July launch hasn’t been as successful as everyone had hoped and said the subscribers’ patience until everything is taken care of is greatly appreciated.
Immediatly after MobileMe’s launch, the company received numerous complaints from users who could not login ot get their gadgets to sync properly. That very week, the company sent an e-mail to all its subscribers announcing them that the team was well aware of the problems and that everything was being sorted out. Subscribers were also informed about the 30 day free extension.
MobileMe grants users access to several applications such as addressbook, calendar, web-based email, photo gallery and storage capabilities. The service is expected to expand Apple’s audience as it also brings new features (Push syncing, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 support) which should be found quite useful by many.
Those who had previously subscribed to .Mac had their accounts automatically upgraded to MobileMe; the new subscriber fee is of $99 for a twelve-month plan.

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