Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts released a draft of his cell phone privacy bill on Monday. The Mobile Device Privacy Act is designed to protect consumers from tracking software such as Carrier IQ, which caused an uproar late last year when it was discovered to be secretly monitoring 150 million smartphone users. The bill would require companies to disclose the use of such tracking software and clarify exactly what information the software collects. Customers would have to consent to any data collected or transmitted, and third parties would have to file applications with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure the data is being transmitted securely. “Consumers have the right to know and to say ‘no’ to the presence of software on their mobile devices that can collect and transmit their personal and sensitive information,” said Markey when speaking to The Hill. Markey serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus. More →
Samsung will open its bada mobile operating system to other manufacturers and developers next year in an effort to “reduce its reliance” on Android, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The South Korea-based company also hopes it can deploy bada on other devices, such as smart TVs. Samsung unveiled bada in late 2009 and has used the operating system on its Wave family of handsets. According to Gartner, bada currently has a 1.9% share of the mobile OS market. Samsung’s latest bada-powered handsets include the Wave 3, Wave M and Wave Y. “For Samsung to be successful with opening bada it will need to be launched in the United States market, because that is where the most powerful developers and consumers are found,” Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told The Wall Street Journal. “If bada does not get traction in the huge U.S. market, then the odds will be stacked against success.”
As much as smartphone, mobile hotspot and connected notebook users love the blazing fast speeds afforded by 4G LTE service, it’s tough to be an early adopter when new devices carry such a premium. Verizon Wireless’ latest 4G phone, the DROID Charge, hit the market at a jaw dropping $300 on contract, for example. According to a report from DigiTimes on Thursday, devices with embedded 4G LTE radios are about to get significantly less expensive. With various chipset vendors set to begin mass production of new single-mode LTE chips later this year and Qualcomm preparing production of its multi-mode LTE chips in the first half next year, prices are expected to drop substantially in the second half of 2012. The new components are expected to decrease the cost of LTE network interface cards by 50% or more, and those savings will hopefully trickle across a variety of 4G LTE-enabled end user products quickly. More →
Microsoft’s final build of Windows Phone Mango has been rubber stamped and released to manufacturers and wireless carriers according to Windows Phone Dev Podcast. The move is among the final steps before Microsoft delivers the Mango release to customers. The most recent reports have suggested that Microsoft will update current Windows Phone devices in September, although winrumors says the update could be pushed out as soon as August. Microsoft’s Windows Phone partners include HTC, LG, Samsung, Dell, Acer, Fujitsu, ZTE Corporation and Nokia, and we should see a number of new devices from those companies in the fall time frame. Mango was officially announced in May and Microsoft has promised that it will deliver more than 500 new features to the platform.
UPDATE: Microsoft’s Senior Director of Communications Bill Cox has stated that Windows Phone 7.5 Mango has not yet reached RTM, as Windows Phone Dev Podcast reported. More →
According to Apple’s touch panel makers, the company has not yet made any information available to manufacturing partners with regard to the next-generation iPhone’s production timeline. This new report from DigiTimes contradicts several earlier reports claiming the iPhone 5 will launch in September. In addition, however, it further supports the notion that Apple may alter its current annual release schedule, which has seen the company launch a new iPhone model each summer since the first iPhone was unveiled in 2007. Key component suppliers would likely already have received orders if Apple intended to launch the iPhone 5 in late June or early July. Instead, manufacturers continue to receive orders for the iPhone 4 according to the report. Some speculate that unresolved component and design issues may delay the release of the iPhone 5, while others believe Apple may make minor revisions to the current iPhone 4 model in the coming months and push back the release of a new device. DigiTimes also claims Apple may also be working on a new entry-level iPhone, which is a rumor that has been reported several times over the past few years. More →
Apple’s suppliers have shipped between 2.4 million and 2.6 million iPad 2 tablets to date, a new report claims. Citing sources at touch panel suppliers in Taiwan, industry watcher DigiTimes states that shipments of Apple’s iPad 2 have outpaced the original iPad. Apple is reportedly expected to take delivery of between 4 million and 4.3 million iPad 2 units each month between April and June, totaling over 12 million units for the second quarter. The iPad 2 has seen tremendous demand in the U.S. and globally, having sold out in nearly every retail location that made the tablet available. Lines continue to form as new inventory arrives at retail locations abroad, and strong sales have kept stock low at U.S. retailers as well. Shipping estimates for online orders placed on Apple’s website improved to 2-3 weeks last month but that is where they have remained ever since, suggesting supply still hasn’t caught up with demand. Apple’s iPad 2 launched on March 11th in the U.S., and we said in our review that it pushed Apple’s already huge lead in the tablet space even further. More →
ComputerWorld has published a study that sheds some light on which manufacturer and wireless carrier in the U.S. provide Android users with operating system updates in the most timely fashion. Data was collected on handsets released by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon from 2009 through 2010. The report examines how many phones were upgraded to Froyo (Android 2.2), how many days it took to receive this upgrade, and what percentage devices are still waiting. The study indicates that HTC has delivered the most Android 2.2 updates to its handsets (50%) while Motorola updates its devices the fastest (54.5 days after 2.2 announcement). In terms of carriers, Verizon took the top spot — taking just 58 days on average to push out 2.2 updates — and was followed by Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T respectively. The report notes, “Between June and December, AT&T failed to upgrade a single one of its nine Android phones.” Ouch. What do you think? Any surprises here? More →
Research In Motion has just introduced a new Built For BlackBerry program that aims to make sure verified and approved third party manufacturing partners deliver specifically designed accessories and peripherals for BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook. RIM details the program as offering, “technical, strategic, and marketing support” to members of the program, in addition to a snazzy Built For BlackBerry logo that will appear on accessory packaging. We have reached out to RIM to try and get an idea of what requirements third party manufacturers will have to meet to be accepted into the program, and most importantly, if RIM is planning on taking a percentage of the sales in exchange for manufacturers using the Built For BlackBerry logo, much like Apple does with their Made For iPod/iPhone program. RIM’s announcement is after the break. More →
Some analysts could soon find themselves in hot water as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the legality of “channel checks.” Channel checks refer to the practice whereby analysts contact inside sources at manufacturing companies in order to glean inside information. This information often has a tendency to move the market, of course, but the SEC is now trying to determine whether or not the practice should be legal. “Insider trading basically comes down to where you know or ought to know that the person from whom you’re getting this information has a duty to someone else to keep it confidential,” former SEC commissioner Paul Atkins told The Wall Street Journal. “If you go in and pay the mail clerk to give you special information, that’s not proper.” Beyond just the analysts involved, the SEC is also investigating “expert networks,” which get paid to connect investors with inside sources. More →
According to blog TechRadar, mobile accessory maker Powermat will be working with phone manufacturers to incorporate their wireless charging technology into mobile devices. Currently, the company makes special cases and battery doors for a handful of small electronics to provide wireless charging via its Powermat base station. “We are looking into putting the technology into phones but it is a complex process,” said a Powermat spokesperson. The same spokesperson also went on to say we should start seeing phones with Powermat technology sometime in 2011.
Native, OEM supported wireless charging — which the Palm Touchstone already provides — does add a certain amount of convenience to digital life. It will be interesting to see exactly which manufacturers jump on the Powermat bandwagon. More →
Earlier today, while speaking to a group of students and journalists at the London School of Economics, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed that there will indeed be iPad-competing slate products running Windows by Christmas. The catch? Steve didn’t clarify whether these products would be shipping, or just announced, nor who would manufacture them. With HP most likely changing course to offer a webOS-based tablet as opposed to a Windows 7 slate, we’ve got to wonder who will end up being first in this category… More →
In an interview with blog Pocket-lint, senior product manager for Microsoft, Greg Sullivan, confirmed who the Windows Phone 7 OEM launch partners would be. And… well, it’s exactly who you’d think it would be. Dell, Asus, LG, HTC, and Samsung will all have WP7 hardware being release around the launch of Microsoft’s next smartphone OS. So when is Windows Phone 7 launching? All Microsoft is saying is “holidays 2010,” which by our calendar puts WP7 in the wild sometime between November and January. Let’s hope for Microsoft’s sake it is closer to November, so they can capitalize on some of that consumeristic gluttony that goes on in the U.S. around December. Come on OEMs, is it too much trouble to ask an engineer to leave a prototype in a bar or something? More →
We really love the boys and girls over at RIM, but if you haven’t already noticed, they’re pretty much stuck in 1998. Why do we say that? Well, RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis (who is absolutely brilliant) started spewing off his nonsense on data conservation at MWC and how “manufacturers had better start building more efficient applications and more efficient services. There is no real way to get around this.” Oh, but there is, Mike. It’s called actually having a wireless data network that can handle the things consumers and businesses want to do on their phones, and it’s called planning. More →