Tuesday, June 29, 2010

iPhone May Be Coming To Verizon

As reported on Fox News today and Bloomberg, it looks like the Apple iPhone 4 is coming to the Verizon Network in January 2011.  The Wall Street Journal reports the iPhone CDMA version will start production in September.   But this would not be the first time that such rumors have been floated around.  Let's look at some of the implications of an iPhone on the Verizon network.

1. One has to wonder how this will affect AT&T apart from the obvious -  losing its exclusivity.

2. AT&T changed its unlimited everything package to a more metered system based upon consumption of data.  This begs the question of what will Verizon do about its unlimited package and, or, will this be more competitive than AT&T?  In that respect, Verizon could really turn up the heat on AT&T.  

3. What about retention of subscribers at AT&T's end?  Will the possible loss of subscribers in droves mean that AT&T will revert back to a more consumer friendly data/voice plan?  

4. Are we likely to see more iPhone sales in aggregate?  Absolutely, even though the Verizon network is not really 4G ready as is Sprint.  (Verizon has 93 million customers and heavily investing in rolling out 4G networks.)  The 4 G network had better be in place by the time the iPhone is launched on Verizon, otherwise  you will not really experience the features  of simultaneous voice and data.  

5. What about Android sales?  Well Google Android has been garnering popularity in the market and a slew of Android phones are expected to be launched throughout the rest of this year, especially the much talked about Galaxy from Samsung.  This strategic move by Apple to distribute on the Verizon network is a smart move against Android getting too far ahead in terms of dominance.  

For all the criticism regarding AT&T buckling under the demand caused by a surge in iPhone subscribers, expect a similar experience if you are a Verizon user.  It's inevitable. The iPhone is already a phenomenal success, in fact the biggest success Apple has had so far with 1.7 million sold in the first three days.  

Competition is always good for the consumer.  Having more than one phone provider sell iPhone will only be a good thing for Apple and us, the consumer. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kindle App For Android Now Available

 A Kindle App is now available as a free download for Android phones, bringing the choice of over 600,000 books for your smartphone.  With a slew of  Google Android phones expected throughout this summer such as the Galaxy from Samsung, this is an important strategic move for Amazon and may help combat the competition it is receiving from both other e-book readers, the iPad and the Kobo coming soon. 

One of the nice features is the wireless bookmark synch between devices.  For example, if you have started reading your book on one device, it will allow you to save your place and pick-up at the same point on another device such as from Kindle to mobile phone etc.  It's also available for the iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac whereas books purchased in the iBook store are only viewable on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.  

However, the Android App is pretty basic at present and is just a reader,which for many is perfectly fine.  Expect new features soon to allow the Android user to search the text and browse directly from the Kindle App.  You can also take advantage of downloading the first chapter of a book for free to help you decide to purchase.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Android App For Free International Calls

Want free international calls?  There's an App for that!  Rebtel is adding free international calls between two Android phones.  Once you've downloaded the App, the software automatically detects  when an international call is made to one of the 50 supported countries, and routes it through the Rebtel network at no extra charge.  Of course, you still have to pay for the local carrier minutes but you could be saving 90% in costs.  

Rebtel for Android will continue to work in the background and is nicely integrated into your address book so you can easily pick a friend with an international number.  When an incoming call comes in, it will also display the person's details and photo.

So what if the person you are calling doesn't have an Android phone?  In that case you'll have to resort to Skype.  However, there are some 160,000 Android phones activated each day in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Apple iPhone OS4 Tracks Your Location

The new iSO4 from Apple is now also available as a general software update for all iPhone users.  The information it can track is not so much about where you have been; it's not some clandestine spyware.  No, this is actually more about the device and services that will ultimately allow developers to bring more location based Apps. In fact the location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify the user.

Data such as geolocation may be shared with application providers only when you opt in to their location services.  By visiting oo.apple.com you can actually opt out of all data for iAds (Apple's mobile advertising service).   Even Google tracks location data from Android phones.  Indeed, Apple has tracked this kind of information before, since how could MobileMe track your lost phone otherwise?

Location services are becoming part of the way we live. If we become overly concerned with security issues, we will have to forego the many great benefits of location based Apps, that in fact can make our lives safer, not to mention more productive.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Gmail Gets A Facelift For The Apple iPad

If you are one of the lucky people to own an iPad, by now you will have experienced some annoyance with Gmail splitting the screen in two, vertically.  Well Google has announced the complete redesign that now enables you to have one full screen when composing emails.  The new App also gives users a faster and better access to email and, improved navigation and search. While the previous version was really designed for the smartphone, it clearly did not work for users on an Apple iPad.

The only issue is that this upgrade is currently only available in English.  However, expect more upgrades to come including resolving the issue around Google Docs and Google Reader, where at present, users are unable to edit using an iPad.  Since Apple is selling around 1.2 million iPads a month, in fact sales have topped 3 million in just the first 80 days, we can expect Google to fix this issue fairly soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Location Based Smartphone Tourist App For Cruising

The PPI Group is well known for providing cruise ship guests with in-depth knowledge of the shopping opportunities in the ports of call during their cruise vacation. The Company has partnered with CellFlare to create an exclusive mobile device app for its on-board guests who have a smartphone. Cellflare's Mobile Proximity Marketing feature will push real time content to cruise guests in their ports of call (as long as consumers have opted-in). 

Kelvin Edmondson, Cellflare's International Business Manager said: “we believe mobile marketing is definitely the wave of the future. With the proliferation of smart phones, carrying around large port maps, shopping books, coupons and flyers along with your beach bag can be cumbersome. All the information on the Port of Call will be available on the mobile device, targeted when close to a recommended retailer". 

Who needs coupons and maps when traveling when all you have to do is download a free app and have the information in your hand, together with a GPS map, especially in a foreign city? PPI will also provide you with other useful tourist information such as: the port history, culture and the logistics of getting around town. So know you have a tourist guide as well as coupons in a very cool application. PPI will operate this port shopping program at many locations including Alaska, Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe and Hawaii. 

It's like having your very own personal concierge service go with you around the world. If there was ever a need to get a smartphone, this is one of those must have apps if you are planning to go on a cruise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Android Smartphones vs Apple iPhone 4

A new Research report just released by Official Wire has shown that smartphone sales have skyrocketed thanks to the iPhone. Google's entry into the market with Android as well as other phone manufacturers such as RIM, HTC etc, are all trying to emulate Apple's runaway success since the first iPhone was introduced a few years ago. 

This week, Apple maintained it's phenomenal dominance with the release of a major upgrade - iPhone 4, which sold 600,000 units on pre-release orders in just the first day. The nearest rival, the HTC EVO from Sprint, is nowhere near this type of success when it was released about a week ago.  In fact from Q1 2009 to Q1 2010, Apple more than doubled its sales of iPhones, selling 8.5 million phones in the quarter and saw its global market share rise 16%.  Despite being locked into an AT&T partnership, Apple has managed to garner a 25% share of the US market.  And one could interpret this laser focus as a deliberate decision to manufacture the GSM version, which is a global standard after all, opening up many markets overseas  - a smart move indeed.   

You'll hear the Android fans say 'wait a minute, Android holds 28% of market share'. Yeah maybe, but that is a combined number involving many handset makers.  No one single smartphone manufacturer can come close to Apple!   iPad and iPod (and even Mac computer owners) have all driven sales for the iPhone 4.  Some are first time Apple users who fall in love with one product and migrate to others in the product line.  That clearly is the clever marketing strategy of Apple and the sleek and smooth integration of the entire product range.  
Some key findings of the Official Wire Report:
  • Apple has defined and driven this market to its current state. All other players in this market are reacting to Apple and playing catch up.
  • The smartphone market forecast is a $350 billion revenue opportunity over the next few years.
  • Led by Google, the Open Handset Alliance, which supports the Android handset technology, are trying to gain control of this market by the numerous releases of Android handsets.  There's almost one new release a month.
  • Android has been late to market and thus is trying to catch up with iPhone, now in its 4th generation.  
It's not all about the handset since it's the Apps that really create the user experience.  Apple has over 200,000 available Apps for the iPhone and many are free, not to mention the iTunes music store, and growing daily.  Google is expected to launch its own Google Music store later this year and most definitely has a lot to catch up with.  The iPad future releases - 2011, is only going to continue to strengthen Apple's dominance and even bring new customers to the platform who will consider future releases of the iPad as perhaps their main computing device.  As for WebOS from Palm, sadly I do not believe it will be a major player now that it has been acquired by HP and lost two of its great engineers and visionaries. 

If you managed to get an order for the iPhone 4, please do tell us what you think once you get it in your hands.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Small Business Owners Can Utilize Twitter

Twitter really works as a traffic driving tool for the small business retailer such as a restaurant or hair salon.    Birds Barber Shop is a small hairdressing salon in Austin,  Texas and has successfully used Twitter to promote itself, especially in a down time or down day.  It has 1,861 followers on Twitter and growing.  The key to successfully using Twitter is not just merely posting 140 character about who is in your store or what may be happening.  That is insignificant claptrap!  What you need to do is run a promotion for the day.  Birds Barbershop used a slow day to post a three hours promotion, 25% rain discount.  They immediately got a lot of response and what would have been a bad business day was turned around in just a few minutes.  

As a small business owner,  you need to think about each day; whether you will run a daily promotion or just use Twitter to create traffic for your store on slow business days or even slow business hours that occur regularly.  It only takes a little bit of imagination and a smartphone access to Twitter.  Experiment and have fun!  

For more advice on social media, read Social Media Marketing For Small Business by the Author of this Blog.  Also available in the iBook store for the iPad and iPhone.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apple iPhone 4 Already A Huge Success On Pre-orders

Apple does it again.  We saw the rush to buy the iPad as soon as it became available and now the same thing is happening today with pre-orders of the iPhone 4, crashing both Apple and AT&T websites.  You might think why, since it's just another iPhone update, right?  Clearly this is a super smartphone that has captured the attention and desires of the consumer.   But why the stampede?  The consumer recognizes this is a major upgrade to an already successful product.  The iPhone 4 in fact comes with about 100 new features, let alone 200,000 Apps available, and a billion already downloaded.  

From 6.30 a.m. EST today, the Apple website was buckling under the demand of pre-orders. The situation wasn't much better at the AT&T website that was also taking pre-orders and upgrades for AT&T customers.  And if you think things are better at the retail bricks and mortar stores, think again as long lines have formed.  

Just a month ago, Apple surpassed Microsoft to take the lead as the biggest computer company in the world (based on market capitalization) and largely due to the 2 million iPad sales in just 8 weeks.  If today's consumer demand for the latest Apple product is anything to go by, we can expect Apple to maintain its lead.

Update June 16th:  600,000 iPhone's were pre-ordered on day one, 10 times higher than the 1st day for the 3GS!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apple iPad Considered As Enterprise Tool

IBM has launched Lotus Notes Traveler as a new iPad software App targeted at enterprise collaborators.  The App is free and it gives corporate employees the ability to keep their calendar, mail and contact information on their iPad via Dominoes server push/connectivity, that synchronizes everything with your desktop back at the office.  It works either via Wi-Fi or a 3G connection. 

The iPad obviously offers greater readability than an iPhone, Android or any other smartphone.  And who said the iPad was just a bigger iPhone?  In fact, the iPad is transforming the way we use computers and mobile computing.  Now every executive has an excuse to buy an iPad.  

Are you, or is your organization considering purchasing an iPad?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

iPhone Takes Video Apps, Geolocation Into The Future

Much of the buzz around the announcement of the iPhone 4 seemed to miss the significance of the Video Conferencing App. For decades, we have been talking about it and seeing it in the movies. Well, the iPhone broke new ground with the first smartphone with two cameras, thus enabling video calling.

But what exactly is a geolocation video app?

Firstly, it would have to include a geo-tag in the application and where it might be useful is when in a video chat situation, you might want to create a map of nearby friends to see where they are or, ping them when you know they are at their destination e.g. a store or cafe etc. That's nice from a social perspective, but how about in an emergency situation? Geolocation with video could be used to triangulate a disaster or crisis spot by using multiple video feeds from multiple angles; 3DModels could even be created from this. 

There are likely to be many more uses of this technology as we are only at the beginning.  Once again, Apple has changed the playing field and taken the standard up a notch.  This truly is the leading smartphone on the market, leaving the Palm Pre and Android playing catch up once again. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Global Unlock For the Palm Pre Plus

Finally, you can now get your Palm Pre Plus smartphone unlocked by simply entering an unlock code. Global Unlock, a leading unlocking solutions provider, has just recently added Palm's best selling smartphone, AT&T Palm Pre Plus, to its list of over 4700 phones that it could unlock.  If you are traveling to Europe for example, this feature can save you a ton of money in charges overseas.  

With a GSM phone, it is easy to buy short term or pay as you go packages when overseas, just by changing the SIM card. Unlocking the phone will give you access to about 30 networks worldwide.  For the price of $24, Global Unlock will pay for itself in no time.  You will save that in roaming fees alone. 

Global Unlock is also available for Blackberry, Motorola, Nokia, HTC and many more. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why Small Business Fails At Social Media Marketing

The main reason why small business fails at social media marketing is: they just don't know where to start! Plunging in is not a strategy and while it does not cost you money to launch into social media marketing, in the long run it will cost a lot of dollars if you are not seeing results. Just as with traditional marketing, you need to have a clear strategy, a defined campaign with objectives and discipline to test, measure and tweak. You need to ask yourself some simple questions: are you looking to create awareness, build an image or brand, garner loyalty or, are your expectations sales leads? Depending on what your objectives are, you can select the medium that works best for you. 

Trying to do it all in a haphazard, unstructured approach is likely to fail and cost you time and money. Social Media Marketing for Small Business is a valuable guide that walks you through the steps, pitfalls and the 'how to' set up a weekly plan. Click here for more information:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Geolocation Targeted Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Mobile marketing is probably the most exciting and yet under utilized marketing tool for business today. A recent Omniture study shows that 78 percent of companies surveyed are not using mobile marketing. Of the 22 percent in the study who are using mobile marketing, here is the breakdown:
- 63.4% – Web sites
- 56.3% – Text messaging
- 52.1% – Applications
- 39.4% – Email

Clearly, making your website more mobile phone friendly is the first step towards implementing a mobile marketing strategy. But using text messaging promotions can be highly targeted (to location), low cost and easily measurable.

The mere fact that consumers can respond to the latest mobile technology Ads (through banner Ads or text messaging), is a great way to pre-qualify your leads. Consider also, that there are 3 billion potential cell phone customers globally (200 million in the U.S. alone), and about 80% of cell phone users do not turn their devices off.   95 percent of those receiving a text message, read it in a few minutes.  This indeed is a very powerful marketing medium.  When combined with geo-location capability, a business can direct Ads, coupons or messages directly to the consumer at the right time.   Tailor the text message to what cell phone users are doing and thus you create a managed mobile marketing campaign, that you can easily measure.

For more on social media marketing click here 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sirius XM Finally Available on Android

Finally, Sirius XM Radio is now available on Android smartphones providing 120 channels of music and talk radio.  The Android phone will receive the channels over the internet either via wi-fi or 3G connection through a free downloadable app; (this is not a satellite service on the phone). Unfortunately it is not a free service like Slacker for the Palm Pre or Pixi. Sirius radio will require a subscription of $12.95 a month and you had better make sure you have a data plan that won't run up a big bill.  With AT&T announcing new plans that essentially charge per byte of data usage, Sirius radio might work out an expensive option on this network.

Compatible devices include the Droid Incredible by HTC, the Motorola Droid, the HTC Hero, the Motorola Cliq, and the Google Nexus One.  

First Video Call App On The Android Market

The next big app for the smartphone is likely to be video calling. Fring is a mobile internet community using a real time dynamic address book - whether your friends are on Skype, Twitter, MSN, yahoo, google, doesn't matter; you can connect them onto a call. And it doesn't matter where they are connected from mobile, laptop or PC. Fring release the first video app for Android smartphones.  You can now stay connected to friends in a mobile social network, on the go. 

While Fring is not true video conferencing, it offers a pretty cool app for the front-facing video call. Clearly, the next generation of smartphones may well have cameras that can be flipped to point to your face, on the front screen, enabling two-way video conferencing. But Fring decided not to wait for the technology to catch up, and releasee its video calling app for Android now, which means you do have to turn the phone back and forth at the present time. If you want at least some video capability, then Fring is the only choice since Skype video app for Android will not be available until later this year and it is not likely to be free. 

So when you are on the go, you can still contact all your buddies at the same time and do video calling. It's particularly useful if you are overseas because it can save you big bucks by using a wi-fi connection to stay connected with contacts back home. And it's all for free!
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