MusicSkins – Make Your Gadget Yours

Andy personalises his gear with help from Jed Seifert of MusicSkins. Why settle for piano black or ice white, just because they’re what Apple says is cool? With vinyl skins, you can customise your phone or mp3 player from a choice of literally thousands of skins. Whether it’s Madonna or Muse, Johnny C or Jay-Z, there’s a skin for you.

Skipping the hyperbole, MusicSkins offer a huge range of vinyl skins for a wide range of phones, mp3 players, tablets and laptops and all ages and tastes. All the designs are officially licensed and there’s new licensing deal with MTV to tie in with their media properties. But if you can’t find something you like you can design your own.The skins are easy to apply and hard wearing.

Prices start at $14.99 for a smartphone. Available on-line and in retail stores.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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DLNA For The iPad And More

Jeffrey stops by the DLNA booth, but before we get to that, if you want to understand what DLNA is, the we recommend you visit their Wikipedia page.  They are showing off some cool devices with that act as DLNA servers, such a home media server, Droid X, laptops, TV’s, Blu-ray players, and an iPad.  Their new iPad app allows user to stream content from a server or upload content to a server.  With over 200 companies manufacturing DLNA-compatibles devices (and more coming) it could become the defacto standard for media content.  For more information you can visit the DLNA website.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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Deloitte’s 2011 Teaser Predictions

Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunication’s practice have given a sneak peak of their global predictions for 2011.

First up, over 25% of all tablets bought in 2011 will be purchased by businesses, with retail, healthcare and manufacturing purchasing over 10 million. Initially, the use of tablets in business will be by people who have brought their own device into work but by the end of the year, businesses will be buying for employees.

Secondly, less than 50% of all “computing devices” sold in 2011 will be traditional PCs and laptops. Peter O’Donoghue, head of Deloitte’s technology industry practice, adds: “In 2011, more than 50% of computing devices sold globally will be smartphones, tablets and non-PC netbooks. 2011 will mark the tipping point as the growth of applications for non-PC items outstrips traditional software sales and consumers embrace a wider variety of devices.”

When you consider that PC sales will hit 400 million in 2011, you suddenly realise how big the non-PC market has become, that it’s grown from almost nothing in only a few years and that the growth is likely to continue at the expense of the PC market.

Finally, Deloitte is of the opinion that no single OS will dominate the smartphone or tablet market. The top 5 operating system developers have plenty of cash to keep the OS wars going through 2011.  The top 5 aren’t named but I’d guess that it’s Google, Apple, RIM, Nokia and Microsoft. Deloitte points out that this fragmentation causes problems and additional cost for application developers, media companies and IT departments.

The full report will be released on Wednesday 19th January.

Energizer announces the first inductive charger with QI technology

Energizer is releasing a new inductive charging system this October at Target stores and on Target.com. It’s officially called “Energizer Inductive Charger”

The new charging pad will charge any QI (Pronounced Chee) enabled device or a device with a QI accessory. Energizer will have the first two of these accessories available at the same time. They are starting with the iPhone 3G and 3GS sleeves and a BlackBerry® Curve™ replacement battery door. They say they will have more accessories available at a later date. Ultimately, doors and sleeves will not be required as manufacturers begin introducing new devices with the Qi standard built in.

iPhone 3g and blackberry on the Energizer Inductive Charger with QI Technology

Imagine sitting at your desk and just putting your smart phone on a nice looking pad and not having to plug it in to keep it charged. Or at the end of the day, just put your gadgets on the pad at the bedside and they will be all charged up in the morning.

In the past, these inductive chargers all had a different standard and had to speak the correct language to work. QI is an open source standard so any QI device and charger can work together. QI does require metal to metal contact to work. QI Logo

I’m looking forward to having a charger like this for my smartphone (Droid).

For more information about these new products check out: Energizer Inductive Charger.

To read more about the QI (pronounced Chee) standard, go to The Wireless Power Consortium home page.

Is Google Cursed?

Back in the very early part of the 1990’s, the tech world villain of choice was IBM, and the underdog was Microsoft. As the 1990’s progressed, IBM began to move into the background and Microsoft took over the role as tech villain.

Windows 3.0 was the version that really started making waves in a big way. It was buggy and unreliable, but it offered a glimpse of the potential personal computers presented. Windows 3.0 made it possible to pick from a wide variety of standardized computer hardware parts and put them together and have a working personal computer that could do rudimentary multitasking. Windows succeeded because it worked on an open hardware platform. That same open platform forever cemented The Windows’ Curse.

In 2010 the new tech villain is Google. Smartphones are the new computers of choice. Google Android is the new Windows 3.0 morphing into 3.1, 3.11, and Windows 95.

My fear is that Google Android is doomed to repeat the muddled path of Windows.

Here is why.

My HTC Evo was recently updated to Android 2.2 “Froyo.” All well and good. However, the Android apps I have installed are constantly being updated. Fine – I can see how that would happen. However, I’m noticing that some of them no longer work. Incompatibilities are creeping in. The latest victim of Android upgrade fail is the latest Android version of the Foursquare app, which causes my phone to spontaneously reboot a few seconds after I open the app.

The Windows Curse is in very real danger of becoming The Android Curse.

The open platform is both a blessing and a blight. Open platforms are great so long as they are small. Once they become the majority market leader, their very openness makes them vulnerable to of errors of confusion as well as a giant security target.

It’s probably time for some company to start producing antivirus and antispyware software for Android phones. And it may also be time for some of us to start fleeing for the higher ground of walled garden dictatorships.

Burning Torch or Damp Squib

With a reported 150,000 units sold in the first week, and a nearly instant price cut, the Blackberry Torch doesn’t appear to have met RIM’s expectations.  But I’m unsure how it could have been any other way.

To start with, 150,000 units is a good opening figure for any company with the single exception of Apple.  Compare it with the HTC Evo 4G and Palm Pre, both of which sold in broadly similar numbers.  Frankly, this tells me that at any one time, there are only about 150,000 people ready to upgrade.

 Secondly, while I know plenty of people who have work-supplied Blackberries, I know of only one friend who has one as a personal phone.  Thirdly, companies tend to purchase in batches and rarely upgrade to the latest phone just because it’s out.  Consequently, I think 150,000 units for business-orientated (smart)phone are good opening figures.

RIM with the Blackberry brand has something that no other phone really has – its association with business.  If you have a Blackberry, it says you are serious about business.  Obviously, RIM has to defend its territory and often the best form of attack is defence, but it’s too easy to get into Apple-beating mode when faced with the iPhone threat.

There’s no doubt that the battle lines are drawn between Apple, RIM and Android.  All are vying for the top spot but RIM has the corporate foundation to push out from.  With Microsoft down and out at the moment, RIM should be locking down the business market tight.  The Torch is a great phone for that as it’s generally considered to be the best Blackberry ever from the reviews, even if it’s not quite up to Android, iOS and WebOS standard.

RIM needs to forget about the opening numbers game and go for the long-term.

Tablets, E-book Readers and Paper

Imagine a school that passes out Amazon Kindles instead of printed textbooks. No books at all, zilch, zero, nada – everything electronic. Printing costs could be completely eliminated, along with a myriad of associated problems – replacement books, textbook obsolescence, and book disposal to mention but a few. A single high-battery-life device such as a Kindle would suffice for replacing all books.

Let’s take this electronic book thought experiment a bit farther. The next logical step would be for the teachers to pass out tests and other traditional paper handouts electronically, eliminating paper altogether. At that point, the Kindle or other reader or tablet would have to be able to allow student interaction, say on a multiple-choice test.

The stickiest problem with this scenario would revolve around having an easy-to-use input system on these devices that allowed students to write phrases, paragraphs, papers, and draw images or diagrams to send back to the teacher.

All of this technology already exists in various forms. Perhaps the iPad comes close to meeting many of these requirements, but some form of the dreaded pressure stylus input would still be needed. Also, two separate devices would be needed – a reading screen, and an input screen on which to write, type and/or draw.

Are we there yet? Not quite, but we are getting close. With the success of the Kindle, iPad, smartphones and maturing touch screen technology in general, the day of eliminating the need for tons of paper is finally becoming a practical, desirable reality.

Smartphones Growing In Europe

IDC‘s latest press release on mobile phones and smartphones in Europe shows the sector grew 8% in the past year, that smartphones represent over a quarter of all phones shipped and that current leader Nokia is losing market share.

The total mobile market grew 8% year-on-year with over 42 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2010.  Of this, smartphones were 12 million units, representing 28% of the market and up 57% on last year.  Mobile phones actually dropped 4% showing the trend towards the more powerful devices.

Overall, Nokia still rules the mobile market, with just under 33% of the market in the first quarter but this is down 9% in the year.  Samsung runs a close second with 29% of the market.  No-one else has anywhere near the  market share of these two.  Even Apple and RIM only have 7.0% and 5.6% respectively.

Looking at just the smartphone market, Nokia is still out front with nearly 41% market share, but again this is well down from 57% last year.  Apple is second with 25%, closely followed by RIM with 20%.

HTC comes fourth with 7.5% and consequently, Android outsold Windows Mobile for the first time.  No sign at all of Palm’s WebOS devices which anecdotally have only sold well in Germany.

To honest, anyone familiar with the space doesn’t need IDC to tell them that Nokia is struggling.  Partly it’s because the smartphone range isn’t great, but I think Nokia just isn’t hip anymore.  Forgive me if I’m being shallow but Apple = cool.  Blackberry = cool.  Android = cool.

The full tables are in the press release but they’re not labelled very well.  The first table is the total mobile phone market, the second table is the smartphone market.

The Tech of Social Networking

The Tech of Social NetworkingModern Internet-based social networking seems like a relatively recent phenomena. Yet, its roots can be traced back to basic human behavior.

Early humans organized themselves into social tribes. As technical knowledge and know-how got better, and written communication emerged, human social interaction also became more sophisticated. The printing press and postal systems supplemented the local tavern and other forms of in-person socialization.  This was the beginning of a more sophisticated type of companionship. These early technologies marked the beginning stages of releasing the bonds of people only being able to interact, conduct business, and socialize with those they could be physically present with.

The telegraph machine could be looked upon as an early form of text messaging. People could conduct business at a distance, as well as send short personal notes to friends or family across great distances.

Then Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Early telephones were not that easy to use compared to what they evolved into, but they did mark a turning point that would profoundly change human interaction and ultimately cause the acquisition of knowledge to accelerate. The wired telephone enabled new, more efficient forms of social networking and interaction. It was a business device, yet it was also a pleasure device, that enabled people to socialize in much more sophisticated ways.

In the later decades of the 20th century, phone lines began to be used for more than simply voice communications. “POTS” or “plain old telephone lines” initially enabled the early stages of Internet growth. Looking back, those early websites had a social networking component built in all along. Business and pleasure were the driving forces.

The Internet quickly became much more sophisticated. High-speed Internet access and ever-cheaper data storage converged, leading to yet another turning point, enabling technologies such as podcasting, the reliable delivery of audio and video, etc. Social interaction among people was profoundly affected yet again.

The proliferation of the modern cell phone was another turning point that developed in parallel with the proliferation of the Internet. Being able to carry around a phone in one’s pocket was a terrific convenience, and has enabled profound efficiencies in the ways people interact. Since most of us alive today lived through that profound change, we cannot fully see what a significant turning point it is, or fully know how the efficiency will impact future generations.

Today we are living through yet another profound change – a type of convergence. The cell phone is morphing into the super smart phone that puts the Internet right in our pockets. Business and pleasure are still right there, driving the need for interaction.

In a way it’s fitting that these nifty, Internet-enabled, touch screen pocket computers many of us now carry around with us everywhere we go also happen to function as telephones.

GNC-2009-02-17 #452 I cover a wide assortment of Tech Tonight

Some new initiatives announced early in the show where I will be offering some for pay podcast consulting to 10 podcasters for the first 6 months. Lots of tech and I talk about my upcoming travel schedule.

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Show Notes:
Windows Mobile 6.5
Pirate Bay Inquisition has begun.
Synthetic Life from DNA
Electric Car Battery Wars
Delete Painful Memories?
Aliens in Contaminated Rivers?
Why Legislate Digital Devices in Schools?
Do you need a Converter?
STS-119 Delayed
Size of Universe
Non Tech (New Beer Tax)
Ten NASA Achievements
Google Analytics Tutorials
Canadians Watch out!
Michelin’s e-wheel
Windows Mobile 6.5 Review
Lego Mindstorms feedback wanted!
Picking a wireless Provider
Clickball a new Hyperlink Sharing Application
Twitter Groups
Blog Twitter Response Stream
Sony Vaio P (Bad Review)
Twickie
Adobe Flash for Smartphones!
Apple says Jailbreaking iPhone is illegal!
Fireball in Texas Sky
Twitter + Enterprise is a Must!
Tips on Linked In for Job Hunters.
Nokia introduces Thinner SmartPhones