Weekly Wrap: Let's Make A Deal
By Carlo Longino, Fri Feb 20 09:15:00 GMT 2004

The AT&T Wireless saga came to an end this week, moblogging gets a boost, and more...


Merger mania's subsided for a while following news this week that Cingular would buy fellow US carrier AT&T Wireless for $41 billion. Cingular stole the prize out from under the nose of Vodafone, creating the US' biggest carrier in the process, and having a significant impact across the wireless industry.

A Nokia exec said this week that the number of features finding their way into mobile devices are increasing more quickly than battery technology can keep up. Texas Instruments stole his thunder a bit though when they said they'll soon start manufacturing a chip that combines all a phone's RF needs onto a single chip, reducing size and power demands. Storage, however, is one area where big advances could lead to the devices of the future. Unless device design has stalled, that is.

Moblogging got quite a boost this week from a couple announcements at the annual DEMO conference. Leading blogging software company Six Apart said it would build a number of mobile enhancements into its popular TypePad hosted blogging service, and a newcomer called WaveMarket announced a pretty cool-sounding location-based moblogging app it's marketing to carriers. WaveBlog allows users to tie blog entries to particular locations and share them with other users, say for a post about a particular restaurant or store or something.

One restaurant looking to wireless is the Schlotzsky's sandwich chain, which said this week it was expanding its free Wi-Fi offering following the success it's seeing in stores that currently offer free access.

German authorities have launched a new SMS-based crime-fighting system that sends a text to volunteers in the relevant area to keep an eye for a particular suspect. Many of the volunteers are transit drivers or public employees that are around the public all day. Some officials are concerned about the program, however, saying it didn't help solve a single crime during the test, but also because it asks people to report on their neighbors, making it game for witch hunts.

A new TV show in Britain is soliciting MMS images from viewers during its live broadcasts, joining a growing trend of media outlets asking its audience to shift from being passive consumers to active producers.

Elsewhere on the site this week, carriers are turning back to business customers with their 3G offerings, the Treo is finding its way into some celebrity palms, wireless technologies are helping the disabled, and ZigBee aims for the home automation market.