Weekly Wrap: The Moto Show
By Carlo Longino, Fri Dec 19 09:00:00 GMT 2003

Motorola makes the headlines, platforms lock horns, and the Java-Brew battle looks to be heating up...


Motorola made a play for the news this week, not only appointing a new CEO, but also when word of a follow-up to their V70 roto-Moto handset leaked out, though it appeared as if the company moved to quash any rumors about the device. The company also said this week it was dropping the Symbian OS in favor of Microsoft's Windows Mobile, a move that really wasn't too surprising since the company sold its interest in the venture a few months ago when it first announced its partnership with MS. The company will release the successor to its first Symbian handset, the 3G-equipped A925, but that looks to be the company's last device featuring the OS.

Moto's move comes as reviews of its MPx200 MS Smartphone, the Treo 600 running Palm OS and Symbian phones like the Sony Ericsson P900 stack up, allowing for some cross-platform commentary and reviews, like one from David Pogue in the International Herald Tribune this week. He, like many other reviewers, heaps praise on the Treo 600, and gives the MPx200 a decent review, but saying it, like most other devices, suffers from "version 1.0-itis" and further models should see improvement.

One market analyst said this week however, that consumers aren't terribly interested in the converged devices that these advanced operating systems enable, and that they don't have any problem with carrying multiple devices. But certainly, as Pogue suggests, these devices will improve as time goes on, eventually offering features and functionality that will rival standalone devices like MP3 players, PDAs, and digital cameras.

While today the iPod is still a far better MP3 player than any phone or PDA, the day that a mobile's got the functionality of an iPod may not be too far off, in light of Toshiba's announcement this week that it's developing a 0.85-inch diameter hard drive with a capacity of 2-3 GB. The company hopes to have the drive on the market in 2005, and its small size means it's tiny enough to fit into phones and PDAs.

Another analyst report came out this week, giving some major respect to Qualcomm's BREW platform. In the past year, the number of carriers using BREW has doubled to 18, and importantly added support for Java. BREW seems to be a good proposition for carriers, as Qualcomm does all the heavy lifting, and it's really difficult for users to circumvent the system and get applications without paying for them. Up next is a big European push for the platform, where Java has been carriers' clear first choice. Elsewhere on the site, Daniel Scuka outlines how one Japanese carrier is hoping to boost its Java revenues by increasing its limits on file sizes, allowing developers to create more robust applications.

More news came out this week undermining the prospects of paid Wi-Fi hotspots, revealing that while the number of hotspots should grow substantially in the next few years, current use and spending on such networks remains quite low. Mobile carriers combining paid Wi-Fi access with mobile data plans looks to be one growth area, while it still appears that businesses stand to gain more from offering free Wi-Fi to their customers than charging for access.

3G carrier 3 looked this week to justify its disappointing uptake, which has thus far fallen well short of their goals. While the company's difficulties in getting handsets both in sufficient quantity and quality have seriously hampered their efforts, the company also says it's suffered from a lack of competition, somehow thinking that if it had competitors touted their own 3G networks and services, they'd see some trickle-down benefit.

But as European carriers still struggle to get their 3G networks on line and attract subscribers, Korean government officials said this week they'll soon hold 4G auctions -- yes, you saw that right, 4G. While they're still not sure exactly what form 4G will take, they're hoping to have it up and running by the end of 2005.

This will be the last Wrap of the year, so enjoy your holidays and I'll see you in 2004. One final piece of advice, though -- if you're going to commit any crimes this holiday season, leave your mobile at home.