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.

Android marches on

Andy Rubin, Google’s senior director for mobile platforms claims that Android will be on 18-20 mobile phones from over a half dozen manufactures by the end of the year.

It will be interesting to see how much of the iPhone/Blackberry Smart Phone market all the G-Phones manages to get.

Google’s Android on more platforms than WINCE (or Window Mobile, which is what they changed the name to after somebody in Microsoft marketing figured out what WIN CE spelled) and Android starting to crop up on netbooks.  If this isn’t causing people at Microsoft to chug Maalox ™ by now, it should soon.

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 Android Phones

The makers of the G1 announce that they are working on three new Android based phones.

Details only on one.  About the same size as the G1, but no physical keyboard.

I’m interested to see how Google responds to the latest iPhone firmware announcement.

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.

Android as a Netbook OS

There has been grumbling about the lack of cell phone platforms available for Google’s Android OS. Perhaps it is because the cell phone platform was just a Beta test for Android.

Rumors about Android being targeted for Netbooks have been around for a while.  Well, it’s not a rumor anymore.  Android has been successfully loaded on an Asus Eee PC 1000H Netbook.

A low overhead, open source OS with the backing of the Google brand behind it.   This could be bad news for Micosoft’s sales projections of Windows7 in the Netbook space.  Consumers who are not comfortable with the current alternate of a LINUX based OS would feel more comfortable with a Google branded OS. (Yes, I know Android is LINUX based, but I’m talking marketing here, not the technical aspect.)

The fact that Google has made Android open source, means no OS licencing fee.  The Microsoft licensing fee is a big cut into the profit margin of any netbook sold running XP, Vista or Windows7 in the future.

Add Chrome to the mix, Google’s browser, which many feel was designed more as a platform for cloud based applications than a general purpose browser and you have a platform that fullfills many of the basic functions that users have.   Google has added the “offline” feature” to gmail and their calendar app.  I expect tasks and Google docs to follow soon.

Here is a senario to consider, using your Android cell phone’s G3 connection as the Internet connection for your Android netbook.  The Android to Android connection could be over Bluetooth, WiFi or even a USB cable.

Details on Palm’s new OS

The OS is called WebOS and is LINUX based. Applications will be written in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.  The SDK should be interesting when it comes out.

The new Palm Pre, due out in the first half of this year, has some really nice features.  These include a Replaceable battery, and a MicroUSB connector for charging, with USB 2.0 support. This is on top of the standards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, various sensors, a sharp screen.

The biggest stopping block to the Pre being a game changer is having it locked to the Sprint network.  As soon as it becomes available on other networks, it could be a interesting challenge to the iPhone.

Microsoft rumored to announce their own smartphone

Microsoft has been in the smartphone business for a while, but only as a software vendor with their WinCE OS (ok, so Microsoft calls it “Windows Mobile” now, but the WinCE name is so descriptive).  

There are rumors circulating that Microsoft will be announcing their own smartphone hardware.

Microsoft already produces hardware, the Zune being the closest to what they need for a smartphone platform.  How the current hardware vendors who sell phones with the Microsoft smart phone OS will react to Microsoft starting to compete with them in the hardware arena.

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.