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The iPhone will go on sale next week in France. While the exclusive French carrier, Orange, has not disclosed any details, French law has already forced Apple to promise that consumers will have the option to buy a version of the iPhone without a long-term contract with Orange.
And now T-Mobile is in a similar situation in Germany. The unlocked iPhone is now officially available but for €999, around $1,478 even if normally available with contract at €399.
So Google today announced its plans to be the latest force in the cellphone industry. The gist of the press release is that Google has partnered with 34 companies to develop and release an “open source” operating system, user interface, and applications. What this means in terms of the highly anticipated Gphone is best explained in the words of the Google engineer in charge of the project, Andy Rubin: “We are not building a GPhone; we are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone.”
This is really only news if you’re a developer. As for what this means for technology consumers specifically, see below for a compilation of the most relevant and interesting quotes surrounding the latest news of the pseudo-Gphone:
ARM is a British company best known for designing chips for cellphones and licensing them to semiconductor companies. The company’s technology is the most widely used in cellphones, though any company implementing the technology modifies it however it deems best. But now a new effort is under way to exploit this chip technology by creating a standard layer of software.
The collaboration was announced at the fourth annual ARM Developers’ Conference being held this week in Santa Clara, California. The idea is to address the rise in consumer demand for Internet access and advanced applications on cellphones. The seven companies are ARM, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Mozilla, Marvell, MontaVista, and Movial. The new standard chosen: a Linux-based open source platform to be designed for next-generation mobile applications.
Purdue University plans to test a text messaging system in late September. So far, about 6,000 students, faculty, and staff have signed up, according to Scott Ksander, executive director of information technology networks and security. In order for the test to be valid, however, the university claims it needs three times that number.
Registration is a simple process. Users go to http://www.purdue.edu/securepurdue and click on “Change My Password.” They then enter their account name and password, and then select the “Emergency Contact Information” link.
Results from the test will be used to determine what works, what can be improved, and how best to evaluate a system for the campus. The university explained that it will use the system only for this test and emergencies involving public safety. Here are some more details (which you can only get to after logging into the system as a student or staff member):
Cellphone subscribers in the 30 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reached close to 933 million in 2005, meaning 80 subscribers per 100 people. Interestingly enough, there are 14 countries which have more cellphone subscribers than people with Luxembourg having the highest penetration rate: 157 subscribers for every 100 people!
The United States is below the average with at least 15 countries that have a higher penetration rate. South Korea and Japan appear to be the only countries which have adopted more third-generation (3G) phones than 2G phones. See below for a chart (via the Economist):
According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), which cites its favorite source of “people familiar with the matter,” Google is working on a new search service for cellphones that will help consumers search for and buy ringtones, games, and other mobile content. Google has even considered including a “social-networking component” (whatever that means in this context). The new service sounds basically like Froogle, er, Google Product Search but for the cellphone.
Google already has cellphone versions for most of its popular services, including search, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. But Google will now effectively broker the sale of mobile content (likely via Google Checkout), which would divert consumers away from the likes of Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. Those companies have their own storefronts for selling you stuff, of course. And they get a significant chunk of such transactions.
Considering global sales of music, video, ringtones, and other mobile content was $27.4 billion last year (and growing rapidly), it’s no wonder Google wants in on the action. But when will the search giant work on what we really need?