Archive for September, 2009

Samsung 12MP Cameraphone & Optical Zoom

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Samsung Electronics has announced the launch of the ‘Samsung AMOLED 12M’ (Model Name: SCH-W880, pictured above), the world’s first 12-megapixel camera phone with a 3x optical zoom lens. The WCDMA-based 3G phone will be available in South Korea from early next month.

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Vodafone Release Date For HTC Tattoo

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Vodafone have just confirmed that the upcoming HTC Tattoo smartphone will arrive on the network in October. The handset will be categorized as an entry-level smartphone and will be their next Google Android-powered phone on the way.

As reported from ITProPortal, the HTC Tattoo is likely to cost around £320, or £25 on an 18-month contract with Vodafone. Features include a 2.8-inch resistive touch screen, a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus (no flash) and will be powered by a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7225 chipset.

Other features include WiFi, A-GPS, MicroSD support, 3G connectivity and 512mb internal memory. The phone will also run on the popular Sense UI that is featured in the current crop of HTC handsets.

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Google Gmail To iPhone And Windows Mobile

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Google has expanded the over-the-air syncing capabilities in its Google Sync service to include Gmail for the iPhone and iPod Touch (version 3.0) and Windows Mobile phones, reports ZD Net. The development means that the phones will be able receive Google Sync messages through their native email, calendar and address book apps.

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Downloadable Phone Films As Of Now

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A NEW feature film starring Jude Law, Dame Judi Dench and Steve Buscemi is always going to attract attention, but the Sally Potter film Rage, which will be launched overseas this week, may revolutionise the way we watch movies.

The buzzword is ”multi-platform”. Not only is Rage opening in cinemas in the US and in Britain in the next few days, but the DVD of the film is being released overseas and Australians will be able to download episodes of the movie over the internet from Monday week, just days after its cinema release.

Not convenient enough? Fans in the US, Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Spain will be able to watch the movie on iPhones and iPods in daily instalments over seven days, starting tomorrow.

It’s the first time a feature film will premiere on mobile phones.

”This is exciting,” says Jim Shomos, a Melbourne writer-producer who has been making international award-winning mobile phone series, such as forget the rules, since before YouTube.

”The phones have got bigger screens, the 3G networks are faster, the speed of mobile networks is making this realistic technically. We’re finally catching up, so now the question isn’t can we do it, but in terms of marketing is it an advantage or disadvantage?”

Conventional wisdom has it that producers ensure a decent gap between a film premiering in cinemas, being released on DVD, appearing in rental shops and turning up on television. Mobile phones haven’t been part of the equation.

But Shomos thinks the mobile phone release, instead of reducing cinema numbers, could draw more people in. ”I think this could well attract attention to the film. If the audience is interested in the content, it’s a more direct way of getting it out to them.”

Shomos’ latest multimedia project is Mordy Koots, a series of 10 two-minute comedy ”webisodes” starring Shane (Kenny) Jacobson, which will be available on the ninemsn website. The series will feature live-action performances set against visuals from the Blazing Angels World War II console game.

”My theory on this is that people in this target market, people under 35, watch stuff on stuff when they can be stuffed! As content makers we’ve got to be in tune with what they’re doing.”

Geoff Brown, the executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, is watching the Rage experiment with interest. ”Making films is the most fickle business in the world,” he says. ”The business model is still emerging, but in a way the question is where does the theatrical release fit in?”

Rage is an unusual looking film which, Brown says, may make this approach worth the risk.

The movie, which debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the festival’s Golden Bear, consists of a series of interviews, as if shot by a schoolboy on his mobile phone. The boy goes behind the scenes at a New York fashion show during which an accident on the catwalk turns into a murder investigation.

Law plays a gender-bending celebrity supermodel, Dench a fashion critic and Buscemi a photographer, in a cast that includes Dianne Wiest and Eddie Izzard.

Potter, who shot the characters’ interviews against a blue screen with just herself behind the camera accompanied by a sound recordist, loves the ”curiously intimate” aspect of distributing the film over mobile phones and the internet.

”Globalisation, sometimes a destructive force that makes everywhere seem the same and eliminates the small and individual in favour of the large and corporate, can be the exact opposite when it comes to a film on the internet,” the director has said.

”The product becomes accessible to all in the twinkling of an eye. A teenager in her bedroom in a village in Spain, a rancher in a small town in Australia, a movie star in a penthouse in New York, all are in it together, simultaneously … a vast web of parallel experience.”

For all the global parallel experiences, one question remains, crystallised by Sunday Age film critic Tom Ryan: ”Who’d want to watch a film on a bloody phone?”

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HTC New Device Extends Market Lead

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Taiwan’s HTC today enhanced its status as the industry’s leading supplier of devices running the Android operating system (OS) by unveiling its Tattoo phone. Although pricing details have not yet been confirmed, HTC said it is targeting “the masses” and the device will be available in Europe first at the beginning of October. Further market launches will follow. The Tattoo is the second device from HTC featuring its new Sense user interface, first seen on the HTC Hero and offering the option of several customisable homescreens, along with live feeds of applications such as Twitter and Facebook, plus email and weather at a glance.

The Tattoo follows previous Android-powered device launches from HTC, including the Dream, Magic and Hero. HTC launched the world’s first Android device last year when T-Mobile launched the Dream (branded as the G1). Samsung and Huawei are the only other vendors to have commercially launched Android phones to date, whilst Motorola is expected to unveil its plans later this week. The hugely-hyped Google-backed OS has a long way to go though before it can take market share from rivals. According to Gartner, Symbian held a 51 percent share of the smartphone OS market in 2Q09, while RIM and Apple grew their shares year-on-year. Android’s share was just under 2 percent of the market.

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T-Mobile + Orange UK = New Market Leader

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Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and France Telecom’s Orange have agreed to merge their UK operations in a 50/50 joint venture that will create a new UK market leader. In a statement citing Ofcom statistics, Orange and T-Mobile – currently the third- and fourth-largest mobile operators in the UK, respectively – said that the combined business would have 28.4 million customers, giving it an approximate 37 percent market share, pushing current market-leader Telefonica O2 into second place (on 28 percent) and Vodafone into third (23 percent). Both O2 and Vodafone had reportedly also been in talks to acquire T-Mobile UK, which has been at the heart of M&A speculation in recent months after Deutsche Telekom said in June it was exploring its options at the unit. The deal is subject to due dilligence and regulatory approvals. However, it is thought that the UK’s anti-trust regulators will look more favourably on a merger between T-Mobile and Orange than a takeover of T-Mobile by one of the two larger players, which would have created an operator that controlled over 40 percent of the market. The deal will reduce the number of mobile network operators in the UK market to four, which will bring it in line with most other comparable European markets. 3 UK remains the country’s smallest network with an estimated 5.8 percent market share, while Virgin Mobile UK – an MVNO that uses T-Mobile’s network – is also a major player with an estimated 6.2 percent share.

Orange and T-Mobile said the merged business will have pro forma 2008 revenues of approximately EUR9.4 billion (£7.7 billion) and EBITDA of EUR2.1 billion (£1.7 billion). To create the new joint venture, Deutsche Telekom will contribute T-Mobile UK on a cash-free, debt-free basis, including T-Mobile UK’s 50 percent holding in its 3G network joint venture with Hutchison and gross tax losses carried forward of at least £1.5 billion. France Telecom will contribute the whole of Orange UK including £1.25 billion of intra-group net debt in order to equalize the value of the contributions to the joint venture. Immediately after closing Deutsche Telekom will grant a £625 million shareholder loan to the joint venture, which would be used to simultaneously reimburse £625 million to France Telecom. As a result, the joint venture will have indebtedness of £1.25 billion, represented by two shareholder loans of £625 million held by each of Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom. The operators said the merger will create net opex and capex savings in excess of £3.5 billion. Estimated opex-based synergies are forecast to reach an annual run rate of over £445 million from 2014 onwards, while capex savings are estimated at £620 million on a cumulative basis over 2010-2014, prior to stabilising at approximately £100 million a year from 2015 onwards. The operators noted in an official announcement presentation that savings are also likely to be made via “optimisation of the workforce” but no details on headcount reductions were given. Integration is expected to take 18 months following approval of the deal by the authorities and will cost around £600 million and £800 million. Both operators’ brands will be maintained for this period with a new brand strategy scheduled to be introduced in the first half of 2012. The management team of the company will be led by Tom Alexander, currently CEO of Orange UK, as CEO, and Richard Moat, currently CEO of T-Mobile UK, as COO.

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Motorola Expected Tto Launch Android Devices Pronto

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Motorola is expected to unveil its first smartphones this week running the Android platform, a launch considered key to the company’s future success following a serious decline in its handset fortunes. The vendor’s CEO of its mobile devices division, Sanjay Jha, is keynote speaker at a Mobilize event on Thursday in San Francisco, prompting widespread belief that he will use the occasion to launch the new portfolio of products. Also keynoting is Cole Brodman, CTO of T-Mobile USA, suggesting that the operator may be involved in Motorola’s first foray into the Google-backed Android world.

Reuters notes that shares of the one-time market leader, now ranked fourth in global handset sales, jumped 11 percent last week on investor hopes that the new phones could generate enough excitement to make Motorola’s bat-wing logo famous again. It recently said it is on track to launch two Android-based phones in time for the holiday season and plans to release more in the first quarter of 2010. Speaking on the company’s 2Q09 earnings call in July, Jha claimed the new devices “will get us back in the game in smartphones.” Significantly, Jha also said at the time that Motorola has already scored deals with two major US mobile operators. T-Mobile USA is now believed to be one of the operators, but speculation continues as to the identity of the second.

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