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Buying a “Smart” Phone for the First Time: Which One?

g1phoneFirst, I work for Microsoft. But I tend to purchase/use Microsoft products only when they are the best option for me personally (and they often are). In this case, I did actually look at Windows Mobile as my first choice. I’m on T-Mobile and not willing to switch carriers (most of my extended family is on T-Mobile, so I use hardly any minutes and like it that way, plus T-Mobile is the cheapest of all carriers and has been good to me the past few years).

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T-Mobile vs. The iPhone or Hurry Up, T-Mobile!

I don’t have a “smart” phone and am in the market. So what logically comes to mind? The iPhone, of course. But I’m a T-Mobile customer and most my extended family are as well, which means we can all talk to our hearts’ content without worrying about minutes. Thus, it’s hard for me to give up the plan my wife and I are on: 1,000 shared minutes for only $50.

But our contract with T-Mobile recently expired, so I thought I’d use that as leverage to see what T-Mobile could offer me to, you know, “retain” me. At the same time, though, I don’t want to admit that I’m mostly happy with their service. What followed was an interesting conversation with a T-Mobile “retention representative” I was transferred to.

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European Laws Make iPhone Officially Unlocked in Germany, France

iPhone GermanyThe 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.

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Seven Companies Decide Open Source Is the Future of Cellphone Technology

CellphoneARM 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.

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Google Goes Mobile Even More, Now Wants to Sell You Stuff

Google MobileAccording 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?