15/04/2005

Ecademy & Opengardens

opengardens.net

Opengardens held an interesting meeting last night with a presentation by Mike Short (who's VP R&D for mmO2 and Chair of the Mobile Data Association) and presented some interesting information and thoughts on where the industry was going.

In the UK there are now more mobile phones than people which is true of several countries but for different reasons i.e. in the UK people may have a company and personal phone or phone and Blackberry type device.

SMS growth has been phenomenal with 3/4 of a trillion messages sent last year. The MDA isn't publishing number of MMS messages (probably due to very low numbers), instead numbers of MMS and/or GPRS enabled handsets.

The MDA has some interesting mini directories available to download from their site here. Currently there's one for Mobile Messaging and Mobile Broadband and another due for release soon on Mobile Applications.

Storage Technology

Storage Technology

Hitachi Data Systems and Seagate have announced they're working on perpendicular bit technology (where the magnetic bits on a disk surface are aligned vertically rather than as they are now horizontally along the surface). This should allow much higher disk densities than is currently possible.

Anyway nice idea, but have a look at the Flash animation they've done for it, very weird, not corporate at all.

12/04/2005

PSP - in English at last

Nuplayer import various game consoles including the PSP.

It seems they're shipping 500 per day, which is pretty amazing for an import item. It shows that Sony have made a mistake not launching over in the UK yet (expected UK launch is expected in July or August).

One of the reasons people are buying imports is that currently none of the games are region locked and Sony has said it doesn't plan to lock games. Of course it's extremely likely that videos will be released in UMD (like DVD) format and these will be region locked, but if you purchase a Japanese unit luckily the UK and Japan are in Region 2 so they should play.

I got a game (US import) and it just worked, all the menus are in English even though the PSP itself is Japanese. It's a shame that Japanese games don't take the User Interface language into account and therefore display game options etc in English too. That's surely an oversight on the design - it would seem sensible to have made all settings/options etc utilise the PSP language settings, but then maybe that was deliberate by Sony to stop people importing games from Japan (which seems silly since the games aren't region locked in the first place).

I haven't yet tried network play, but I guess it will just work. All Sony need to do is realease a software update to add Internet utilities into the mix, media streaming, and it will be the perfect handheld device.

If you're interested in getting an import, get a Japanese unit Play Asia sell them, I don't know if Nuplayer sell US or Japanese versions. It's rumoured the Japanese version has a better LCD screen manufactured by Sharp, while US (and UK) models have a display made by Samsung which isn't as bright or sharp (sic).

11/04/2005

ElectricNews.net:News:Brussels backs broadband over power lines

ElectricNews.net:News:Brussels backs broadband over power lines

Broadband over Power Lines (or PLC power line communications) has been promised for a while. Unfortunately the technology hasn't met expectations and there are still problems with it.

In the UK there have been trials in various regions including rural areas of Scotland where the results have been very promising and the technology can work well in rural areas. Why? a) there's nothing to interfere with, so any leakage of EMI (elctromagnetic interference) doesn't actually interfere with much (well maybe a few sheep) and b) a single substation feeds a region.

In somewhere like London, multiple substations feed premises and putting PLC into substations doesn't work as they destructively interfere with each other. However that's a technology problem that may well find a solution in the coming months or years.

In house PLC has been reasonably successful and there's even an organisation supporting it HomePlug, but with the introduction of wireless USB, Zigbee and WiFi/WiMAX it may get lost in the dust.

Banks set to lead On-line identity

Why it's taken so long who knows? The initiative comes out of the "Connecting the UK Strategy" launched at Downing St last week.

Banks are ideally placed to run identity services, they know who their customers are and already issue "identity" information in the form of cheque books, bank and credit cards. It's a simple step to offer an "identity" that is suitable for on-line use.

The banks are adopting "chip & pin" for use with debit/credit cards which will hopefully reduce fraud (both at point of sale and over the Internet) and therefore are ideally suited to extend this to on-line identification. They already have the infrastructure to authorise on-line purchases and this could be extended to on-line identification. They also would be ideally suited to say introduce some kind of on-line certificate and act as a trusted third party for identification. This way a user's browser could have a certificate installed signed by the bank which would identify the user. This could be extended to certificated in WAP phones, PDA's etc.

Until there is a trusted way to identify people in a secure manner, various on-line practices are bound to fail - or at least not take-off to the extent that government wants them to.

UK Online offers broadband for �9.99 - Web User News

UK Online offers broadband for �9.99 - Web User News

Broadband pricing is starting to reach commodity pricing. UL Online (the consumer variant of Easynet) has dropped the price of it's 512K service to £9.99 a month (approx $15). They've also dropped their 2Mb/s and 8Mb/s pricing.

It's likely that others will follow so broadband pricing is hitting narrowband (i.e. dial-up) levels.

The margins on these services will be very low, so it's likely that other plays will have to come into force such as voice services and/or IPTV, though they have the advantage of a service based on local loop unbundling (LLU) based on Easynet's infrastructure of (currently) 230 exchanges giving them access to aound 4.4 million households.