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Blogwatch: You wait years for an Apps Store, then 3 come at once

On Blogwatch this week; Google keeps on dominating the blogs, with news of its Android Application Store and Cloud browser, and the evolution of 3G comes in for scrutiny.

It was inevitable that having seen the success of Apple’s iPhone Apps Store, that rivals would seek to emulate the model. First up, Google. The Internet giant announced its plans for an application store this week. Silicon Alley Insider investigates the difference between the “Android Market” and the Apple store.

The big difference: Apple runs it own store with a pretty firm hand. If you want in, you’ve got play by their rules. But Google has an open door policy: Developers who want to put their program on the market just register, upload, and they’re in business. Good news for developers, right? Open access to a platform supported by the biggest player in tech? You bet. But there is a downside: While everything on Apple app store has the Steve Jobs seal of approval, Google’s shop is going to be a caveat emptor proposition. Which means that a bunch of Android users are likely to get some bum apps. If that happens too often, that’s going to diminish Android’s appeal, and have developers begging for a firm hand.

Rival site Valleywag has it’s own take on the news:

Don’t call it an app store — it’s an open content distribution system. Android Market will be Google’s version of the iPhone App Store. A PR-speak description of the site emphasizes that posting apps for sale will be a lot like uploading videos to YouTube. But with iPhone app developers already posing as punk-rock heroes, how much more developer-friendly does Google really need to be? A screenshot from the not-yet-launched store seems designed to appeal to wonky coders, not the mass market of non-technical buyers Google will need to attract.

This from Googlewatch:

All the pieces are coming together. Several programmers have written Android apps. Two weeks ago, Android launched an SDK and OS road map, and unveiled Market, a place to buy the apps. What’s missing? Oh yeah, the devices. Until the HTC Dream and other Android-based smart phones of its ilk come to the fore in the fall, it’s hard to get too excited about these supporting ecosystem moves. I look forward to the first gadgets based on Android and hope for Google’s sake that they are comparable to the first iPhone in user experience. If they are subpar, Android will be deemed a failure and Google will swallow a bitter pill. Gadgetheads are a merciless lot and will show the search engine no quarter if Android phones aren’t as good as, if not better than, the best handhelds from Apple, Nokia, RIM, Palm and Microsoft.

MoCoNews adds its two cents:

On the business side of the house, details are foggy. Google said that the first phones will have a beta version of Android market, and at the minimum, it will support free applications. After launch, Google will work towards adding paid content and more features, such as being able to upload a new version of the application. But who knows what kind of revenue splits we are talking about.

Not to be outdone, news breaks that Microsoft (remember them?) is also getting into the game. Anyone want a job with the “Skymarket”? If so, time to brush up your CV and get your skates on, as Apple Insider believes Microsoft is hiring:

The project, tentatively called “Skymarket,” was revealed in a job listing Microsoft posted earlier today at for a Senior Product Manager to oversee a marketplace service for Windows Mobile. According to the job listing, Microsoft doesn’t plan to commercially launch Skymarket until the release of Windows Mobile 7, slated for late 2009. However, the company does hope to find someone who can handle “driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall.” The posting also indicates Microsoft hasn’t made much progress so far about its conceptual goals for the store. It calls for an applicant who can assume responsibilities for “definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace ‘the place to be’ for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications.”

The full report is lengthy, and we recommend you pop on over to AppleInsider and read it in full.

Meanwhile, Dean Bubley’s Disruptive Wireless blog notes that the GSMA is now “toning down the rhetoric towards reality”. Strong words Dean, but we know what you mean. The whole industry is guilty of “bigging up” the abilities of new technology. Remember when the ITU claimed that 3G (or rather, IMT-2000) would give us an incredible 1Gbit/s of bandwidth in static mode? Well yes, but only if you were the sole user on a desert island, standing right next to the tower, and theoretical mathematics magically became reality. But back to Dean…

I saw this headline (“Mobile to reach 100Mbps before fixed-line, claims GSMA“) and was about to write a pithy response, mentioning awkward facts such as HongKong Broadband Network’s residential Symmetric Gigabit service having been available for a year or so. Then I read the full article, which includes sensible commentary from Dan Warren saying “obviously you never get the top speed and they vary with distance from the base station and interference”. Further, the GSMA’s recent press release of 50m HSPA subscribers cites “peak data speeds over HSPA are currently between 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps. This translates to an end user speed of more than 1Mbps”. In other words, the GSMA is actually being realistic about real-world speeds for mobile broadband

He’s also written a piece on the threat that 3G in the 3.5GHz band poses to WiMAX. Incidentally, the WiMAX community should be banged to rights over its ludicrous hyping of the technology as some kind of 3G-killer. But I digress…

One thing that 3GPP has been very good at is rolling out support for new frequency bands – arguably too good, some might say, as the number of available 3G/LTE bands now far outstrips the ability of chipsets to support all of them. The latest in line is 3500MHz (and also 2300MHz), which until now has been the preserve of WiMAX and other similar fixed-wireless technologies. I suggested last November that this was a likely counter-strike by the invasion of the 2.5/2.6GHz band by WiMAX. With the continued push towards a TDD profile for LTE, my view is that the WiMAX community is in danger of being further squeezed in some markets in terms of spectrum allocation.

Sticking with next-generation wireless, Martin Sauter has an update on LTE. He’s spotted an air interface primer on Agilent’s website that is worth a look:

Lots of interesting material can be found at Agilent’s LTE Network Testing web page. I especially like the LTE (Air Interface) introduction whitepaper. Although I am already aware of many things discussed in the paper, its always good to read about things from an author that looks at the topic from a different perspective.

And finally, some personal news. I have finally managed to receive a Broadband Migration Authorisation Code from my local ISP, the increasingly-bad Pipex. It only took six premium-rate phone calls and an email before I could speak to a human being — at a total call cost estimated at around £27, which is more than a month’s fee for my 8Gbit/s (reality = 2.1Gbit/s on a good day) uncapped service. Note the “uncapped”.  Strange then, that I can only access a web page at home for about 30 seconds every five minutes…. Is someone Throttling My Package? My apologies to all the long-serving staff of Pipex, if there are any left, as I point the finger of blame at new parent company Tiscali. Meanwhile, one call to tiny independent ISP Andrews and Arnold was answered in seconds by a (shock horror) knowledgeable and friendly person who gave me a lot of information and advice and seemed genuinely pleased that I was about to give them my business. There is a moral in this story; it’s just a shame that most telecoms companies couldn’t give a toss.


Friday, 5 September 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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