Summer of the Smart Phone

Let’s review what is announced/rumored for this summer.

Palm’s Pre is due out in two days.  Will it be enought to save Palm? Hell, Sprint could use the boost too.

Two days after that,  the new iPhone firmware is release, and probably new iPhone hardware as well.

Later this month, Nokia’s N97 is due out

After that,  Google will release another rev of Android and multiple Android phones will be hitting th streets.

New iPhone hardware

According to Fortune Magazine, Apple is building 5-6 million new iPhones at their Chinese factories.

The rumor is to expect two new models in either June or July.  One will be faster, with more memory and a better camera at least. The other would be a step backwards, a less powerful, but cheaper model.

Another issue facing Apple & iPhone users is AT&T’s 3G network. It seems AT&T is a bit nervous about millions of new 3G phones hitting it’s network this summer and is rushing to upgrade in order to handle the load.

New iPhone hardware rumors

Apple has changed the rules for the Rev 2, 3G iPhone sales. Customers can buy “unlimited quantities” without the AT&T contract that subsides the price.  This is the same tactic Apple used to clear out Rev 1 hardware before they announced the 3G iPhone.

The Apple Developers Conference, June 8-12, would be a good place announce a new rev of the iPhone hardware that will use the new firmware to the best advantage.  Apple could use a new iPhone to offset the Palm Pre and new Android phones.

New Skype on the iPhone rumors

From GigaOM we have the latest rumors about a Skype application for the iPhone. The buzz is that it will be announced next week.  I’ll believe it when I see it on the iTunes app store.

Cell carriers are going to start coming around to the reality that for smart phone users, they are a data carrier.  Voice is secondary and they want greater flexibility.

Update: Ok, I believe it.  I downloaded the Skype app from the iTunes app store today.  It only works over WiFi, but if you can get a WiFi connection, you can talk to your Skype buddies without AT&T having anything to do with it.

3.0 iPhone software

The big news, Cut & Paste!

The new software is supposed to announced tomorrow.  Rumors of a tethering app as well, but expect AT&T to want extra for it.

Apple Netbook rumors

A Mac blogger lists 10 items about a possible Apple netbook.

Not surprisingly, two of those items are about how it’s going to be at the top, and extend upwards, the cost range of netbooks.  Duh! It’s an Apple. 

The other interesting items are:

No keyboard, keeps costs down, and profit margins up. Think of a tablet/iPod touch cross.

It’s a shot across Google’s bow, pushing OS X as a netbook OS. This is in response to Android being ported to the netbook platform.

It will run apps, like the iPhone & iPod Touch. Keep the users locked to Apple via the iTunes interface.  This also keeps Apple in control of the device.

Non-Safari browsers for the iPhone

Apple is now allowing third party browsers on the iPhone.

Don’t get too excited, these are all Safari based browsers.  

When I can load Opera, Chrome or Firefox on my iPhone, that will be a real crack in Apple’s control over the device.

A long post on Operating Systems.

It’s an interesting time for operating systems.

The landscape was Microsoft dominating, Apple with a small, but fanatically loyal share and LINUX pulling up a distant third with a tiny hardcore geek base.

Then Microsoft decided to make its users relive the ME days with Vista, only worse. The timing was horrible, since Apple was gaining new customers with the iPod and iPhone. People who had deep, meaningful relationships with their iPod/iPhone and didn’t like what they were reading and hearing about Vista. So they figured what the Hell, and bought Mac desktops and notebooks.

Now, Vista isn’t as bad as its critics say it is, but it did have its share of problems. Lack of driver support when it was released was a big one. The overall bloat hurt them badly as well. People who upgraded not only found they had problems getting their various components to work properly, but what was a reasonably snappy system running XP became painfully slow running Vista. Then there was the outcry of the geeks against the new layers of “DRM Crap” stuck in the core of Vista. Ok, I was one of them, and it’s one of the reasons I’m still running XP. Then there were the multiple editions of Vista. Home Basic, Home Premium, a couple of business flavors, and for a bunch of money, the full featured version. This alone is all you need to know that Microsoft marketing is operating clueless and without a net. Given that, those who stuck through with Vista are much happier since Service Pack 1 came out. It seems that ugly blind date Microsoft stuck them with, cleaned up pretty good with SP1. Some users speak nicely of the new user interface, but a lot are still looking back at their XP days fondly.

Let us not forget our friend the penguin. LINUX was finally hitting non-nerd hands as the OS of choice for low cost netbooks. Personal computer manufactures work at razor thin margins, and an XP license can run $50. The whole idea of the netbooks was a lean device that did what you needed and not much more. Small screens, tiny keyboards, 4 Gig flash RAM hard drives and 512 Meg memory. Trying to wedge Vista into that wasn’t going to fly from a marketing standpoint, let alone a technical one. (ya, ya…I’ve heard geeks say they have Vista running on scaled down systems. I’m wondering what they had to turn off, and which of half dozen plus versions of Vista they were running).

Still, I’m not seeing much in the way of LINUX market penetration beyond the netbooks. Sorry geeks.

Since Acer got the netbook ball rolling, the larger manufactures have entered the market, specifically Dell and HP. They offer netbooks with LINUX at or near the Acer price point, and more robust (more RAM, bigger RAM flash HDs) models with a more consumer friendly XP loaded.

Even Microsoft figured out that Vista was a non-starter with the netbook market. That is why they extended XP beyond their already announced end of sale date.

Which brings us to Windows 7, which Microsoft has been frantically leaking information about. Call it Vista reengineered if you like. It seems that Microsoft actually learned something from the beating it has taken over Vista, and has its engineers going through the OS code and “cleaning up.” Actually removing unneeded code and rewriting modules to be smaller and faster. A couple of lines here, a few cycles there. When you have all the code teams actively doing it, those small trimmings add up. From what I’ve heard from people who have BETA releases, Microsoft has hit its goal of having Windows 7 run on netbook platform.

Before we get too excited, keep in mind the release date for Windows 7 is Q110. So you have another year of keeping XP running or taking the Vista plunge if you are a Microsoft OS user.

Now let us talk about the new kid on the block. Yup, Google. You have heard the rumors about Google getting into the OS market. Guess what, they already did. It’s Android. The Google OS is already loose in the wilds, running on a mobile platform and trying to pass itself off as a mild mannered phone.

Ok, so you can make calls with it. I can make VoIP calls with my desktop too. The lines are blurry these days. Most people with iPhones will tell you that the fact that they can make calls with it secondary. It’s a mobile internet device. Android is a Creature of the Clouds (You heard that description of a Cloud computing based device here first kids!).

Android is designed to work well with the existing Google net based services like Gmail and Google calendar. It also isn’t locked to a platform and provider the way the iPhone is to Apple/iTunes. Listen, I have a deep and meaningful relationship with my iPhone, but it’s getting dumped once Android gets a bit more mature and supports a few more platforms and providers.

I would not be surprised to see Android, or some flavor of it, running on netbooks by the time Windows 7 hits the street. I wouldn’t bet that Google couldn’t beat Microsoft in getting a netbook running Google OS on the shelves before Windows 7 is commercially available.

Updating right after posting! According to CNET, Microsoft is going to try and get Windows 7 out by Q409, specially for the Christmas buying season.  Good luck guys.  I’m still sticking by my Android on a netbook first prediction.

Actually went smoothly this time

I upgraded my rev 1 iPhone to the 2.1 firmware Sunday.  Unlike the last time, this process went smoothly.

New iPhone firmware

Version 2.1 is coming out on Friday.  Based on the really lousy way Apple handled the last upgrade, I won’t touch it until next week.