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Friday, August 26, 2011

This week at The Fonecast: 26th August 2011

Mark Bridge writes:

Today’s news summary is a little early because I’m on holiday this afternoon. I’ll be leaving Iain and James in charge... and, even though it’s traditionally the “silly season”, they’ll have plenty to talk about in Wednesday’s podcast.

A week ago, the big news in our podcast was Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility. This week it was HP’s move away from webOS devices. And now we hear that Steve Jobs has stepped down from the CEO role at Apple, although he’s remaining with the company as Chairman of the Board. The big concern really ought to be Steve’s health – the company’s in the apparently safe hands of former COO Tim Cook – although you’d struggle to believe that, given the amount of “Can Apple keep winning?” stories in the news. To quote Mr Jobs himself, “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it”. I don’t doubt him.

Samsung is probably wishing Apple would do more innovating and less legislating. Apple’s injunction against distribution of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet remains in place across Germany – although not the rest of Europe – while a new injunction in the Netherlands threatens to block a number of Samsung’s smartphones.

Mind you, there’s been more to Samsung’s week than patent battles. It’s also released the SDK for bada 2.0, it’s introduced a new naming scheme for its Galaxy smartphones and it’s been confirmed as the newest partner for over-the-air-update specialists Red Bend.

In the world of BlackBerry there’s a new music service on the way, showing how much the company has changed from its enterprise-focussed days. Users will be able to select their top 50 tracks and share them with friends over BlackBerry Messenger. They’ll also be able to play their friends’ top 50 tracks. Great if your friends have a similar but slightly different taste in music. Not so much fun if you all like the same stuff – or your tastes are dramatically divergent. Still, we’ll see.

RIM also announced three new BlackBerry Curve phones, while Nokia announced three new smartphones that’ll run the forthcoming ‘Belle’ version of the Symbian OS. Sony Ericsson also had product news, revealing a new Walkman-branded Android phone and talking about its plans for an Android upgrade in the autumn.

On the subject of upgrades, Vodafone UK has confirmed it’s adding direct operator billing – charging apps to your mobile account – to the Android Market. And Facebook is upgrading as well, dropping its Facebook Places service in favour of the ability to ‘check in’ to pretty much anything anywhere. (As opposed to Everything Everywhere, of course).

But perhaps it’s the UK’s mobile infrastructure that needs an upgrade most of all. The BBC’s crowd-sourced survey into 3G coverage appears to show that most people can’t get 3G for around a quarter of the time. Even that’s better than a similar survey from the OpenSignalMaps project, which found UK users had access to 3G networks only 58.3% of the time.

Right, it’s time I was packing for my holiday. Now, where’s my femtocell?

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Author: The Fonecast
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